I live in New England, so our growing season is not that long, so not really that well-suited for growing chili peppers. But a couple of years ago we had a nice, hot summer, and I was actually able to harvest a crop, so I decided to make my own hot sauce.
We harvested about a pound of Thai bird’s eye chilis which was just enough for one bottle of hot sauce. So, if you’re looking to make several bottles, you’re going to need several pounds.
In order to make a really tasty hot sauce, you’re going to want to ferment your peppers long enough to let all of the flavor come out. So give yourself at least a couple weeks if not longer of fermentation time before you start putting the sauce together.
Now you don’t need to use bird’s eye chilis. Any sort of chili pepper will do. You could use jalapeño or habanero or whatever other spicy pepper you have available. Just remember that the color of the chili pepper will determine the color of your sauce, so choose peppers with vibrant colors if you want a vibrant-looking hot sauce.
The inspiration for this recipe came from this amazing book called the Art of Fermentation by Sandra Ellis Katz. (Amazon affiliate link.)
And what Sandor recommends is a 2% brine, meaning you’ll want to get your ratio of salt to water right in order to have a well-balanced sauce. But don’t worry, it’s easy, I’ll walk you through the process below.
Homemade Hot Sauce
- Vitamix or similar
- quart-sized jar
- 1 lb chili peppers I used Thai bird's eye
- 20 grams salt
- 1000 grams water
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- Wash peppers.
- Cut peppers into pieces. (Depending on the type of chili you use, you may want to wear gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes.)
To Prepare Brine Solution
- Add salt to water.
To Prepare Chilis for Fermentation
- Place chopped chilies into a clean quart-sized jar.
- Add aromatics: a couple cloves of crushed garlic, thyme, onions; whatever you like that will infuse your hot sauce with more flavor.
- Add your brine solution.
- At this point, the chilis will want to float up. Press them down so they stay below the brine. I used an onion with the outside layers removed; on top of that I placed a pickling weight to keep everything down. If you don’t do this you may get mold growth, a definite no-no! Also, be sure not to use anything metal as it will react with the salt.
- Put quart jar on a plate for storage.
- Place a lid loosely on top to allow the CO2 gas that will be created to escape.
- Place the in a dark spot at room temperature, allowing it to ferment for a minimum of 10 days. (Two to three weeks is probably optimal.)
- Once it is happily fermented, place it in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
To make the Hot Sauce
- Remove the pickling weight and pour all of the chili peppers through a strainer.
- Using a blender or a Vitamix, liquify the peppers, increasing the speed slowly as you go. (You may need to add back a little of the brine to aid in the process.)
- Using a funnel, pour your hot sauce into a decorative bottle, or even a recycled hot sauce bottle. (I used an antique bottle my husband found in the woods.)
How Does It Taste?
Spicy, of course, but it’s almost got a kind of lemony flavor to it. I’d say tangy with a hint of citrus.
I think mine could have used a little bit more garlic, so I’d recommend putting in an extra clove of garlic if you’re a garlic lover like I am. But overall, pretty stinkin’ good!
And if it’s around the holidays, you could make a whole case of these and give them away as consumable gifts, the best kind of gift for sure!