Fermented Chilli Hotsauce

Late summer & autumn often bring with them lots and lots of chillies, so it’s good to have a few different recipes on hand for how to make the most of the abundance. Of course dehydrating chillies is a great way to keep them preserved until you need them, and there are a few ways you can do this which you can read about here.

Then there’s Chilli Jam, and different chutneys and pickles, but one of our favourite ways to use an abundance of chillies is to ferment them and make hotsauce. If you’re new to fermenting and feel a bit nervous about it as a preservation method, have a read of this article which hopefully answers a lot of your questions and puts you more at ease.

Ingredients:

  • Chillies
  • Pure salt (see notes)
  • Water
  • (all optional additions) garlic, onion, capsicum, apple, ginger, galangal, lime juice, coriander, lemongrass

Method:

  1. Make a 2-3% brine solution (see notes) and let it cool.
  2. Peel & roughly slice garlic (if using. We always do because.. well, Garlic) and add to a clean jar.
  3. Wash chillies. Shake dry.
  4. Snip chillies with scissors straight into the jar. We go for lengths of 3-4cm. Larger pieces will just take a bit longer to ferment.
  5. Fill jar with cooled brine solution. Cover jar with a clean cloth or put the lid on very loosely.
  6. Leave at room temperature (out of the sun) for a few days – with a daily stir of the chillies – until brine goes cloudy, bubbles form throughout, and it smells rich and flavoursome.
  7. Once you like the taste of the fermented chillies, scoop them out of the brine and blitz in a blender. Make it as coarse or smooth as you like. Add more brine if you want a runny sauce, and add less if you prefer a paste.
  8. Seal in clean jars or bottles in the fridge for months and months and months.

We use this type of hotsauce in lots of ways: in dipping sauces with soy and sesame oil for dumplings; over fried eggs; mixed through stirfries; added to soups for a bit of depth and kick, and much more besides. Every now and then, we hold off blending them, and just keep a jar of fermented chilli slices in brine in the fridge for adding to pizzas, poke bowls, sandwiches, stirfries and so on.

Notes:

  • To make a 2-3% brine solution, dissolve 1tbsp of pure salt in 500ml water. Use spring or rain water if you can get it, otherwise boiled water will do the trick. Always cool your solution before adding to other ingredients, otherwise the heat will kill off the good bacteria needed to kick start fermentation.
  • Pure salt is salt that has no additives. Lake, sea, kosher, ‘pickling’, rock: they’re all pure. When measuring by volume rather than weight, make sure to use granulated salt though, otherwise the ratios will be off.
  • For fermenting, jars don’t need to be sterilised, as the salt will kill off most bad bacteria. Just give your jar a good wash with hot soapy water and rinse well.
  • Fermentation will take longer in cooler weather, so don’t fret if it takes a week or more for bubbles to form. You could leave this fermenting for up to a month (and very possibly more), so don’t worry about leaving it ‘too long’.
  • To make a milder hotsauce (if you have super hot chillies), add some capsicum and maybe a bit of apple: they’ll act as a carrier for the heat so it’s not so vicious, and add a bit of sweetness.

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste; 9: Use small and slow solutions; 10: Use and value diversity;