Ferment This: Fiery Pepper Trio

So you enjoy spicy food, like chili peppers? Me, too. Not only do hot peppers taste great and add a piquant flair to otherwise ordinary dishes, but they have health benefits, too. With poblanos, jalapeños, and habaneros beginning to wilt in the crisper, fermenting them for homemade hot sauce simply makes sense!

I’ve fermented poblanos and jalapeños before, but adding habaneros was new. In retrospect, I would definitely wear protective gloves when handling the habaneros in the future because not doing so left my hands tingly for days. I also had to be very careful to avoiding touching my eyes, even after thoroughly washing my hands. According to this article, a habanero is, on average, “about 45 times hotter than a jalapeño…at 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).” That’s some seriously spicy stuff!

Starting to look wrinkly, but just fine for fermenting!

Making the ferment is easy: chop the peppers to the desired size, fill jar, add garlic and crushed red peppers, pack down, pour in enough brine to fill the jar, then add about 1 Tbsp (per quart) of starter, like milk kefir whey or kombucha. Since I’m planning to make hot sauce from these peppers when they’re ready, I added kombucha – its tangy flavor will work nicely.

Once the jars are full (I was able to make 1 quart + 1 pint from 4 poblanos, 2 large jalapeños, and 5 habaneros), simply screw the tops on tightly and wait for the magic to happen! I like to “burp” the jars every couple of days to release excess pressure and to check the progress. After a couple of days, I’d expect to see a color change and see/hear fizziness, indicating activity.


An active bell pepper-jalapeño ferment after a couple of days

Aside from the probiotic benefits and avoiding food waste, fermenting peppers is an easy and rewarding project…and when I’m enjoying super-spicy hot sauce – on homemade beans, on tacos, in soup, on scrambled eggs – I’ll feel the pride of knowing I made it, and that it contains only the ingredients I want it to contain.

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