Lacto fermented Fresno pepper hot sauce. I love a great hot sauce!
You will always find several different hot sauces in my pantry, two of my favorites are my green Harissa and Zhoug, a Yemenite hot sauce. Each hot sauce in my collection has a different level of heat. Some are very pleasant and give me that little kick, while others will give me tunnel vision and tears will run down my cheeks. Lacto fermentation delivers intense and complex heat. My Fresno pepper hot sauce includes the seeds of the peppers. So be warned, the sauce packs quite a punch.
Not long ago, fermentation was the way to have food for the winter
The excess harvest was Lacto-fermented and preserved for the winter months. Lacto-fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation that has been around for thousands of years. How things have changed in our days, instead of the Lacto fermented nutrient-rich foods full of enzymes and probiotics, the average diet today consists mainly of sugar-laden, lab-created, and highly manufactured foods. FYI, my hot sauce only needs salt, water, and red Fresno peppers. That’s it! Be sure to use high-quality sea salt and do not use treated water, chlorine is harmful to fermentation, and spring water is what you want to use.
You can’t ferment without time
I let my peppers age for one week in a Mason jar with the lid tightly closed. After the second day, the mix starts bubbling and you know the fermentation has begun. Some suggest fermenting a hot sauce for up to a month, however, one week is long enough for me. The fermentation changes the flavor of the hot sauce, adding a much more complex tangy layer.
The saltwater brine creates an anaerobic environment (free of oxygen) where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive. The lactobacillus bacteria act as a preservative, keeping harmful bacteria from living in the ferment. The process works because of the fact that harmful bacteria can’t tolerate much salt, but there are healthy bacteria that can.
Lacto-fermentation “How It Works” written by Leda Meredith explains the stages as…
- In stage one of Lacto-fermentation, vegetables are submerged in a brine that is salty enough to kill off harmful bacteria. The Lactobacillus good guys survive this stage and begin stage two.
- In stage two of Lacto-fermentation, the lactobacillus organisms begin converting lactose and other sugars present in the food into lactic acid. This creates an acidic environment that safely preserves the vegetables — and gives Lacto-fermented foods their classic tangy flavor.
Fresno chilies are shaped very similar to jalapeño chilies and they can easily be mistaken for red jalapeño. They are available in red and green varieties, the red being the sweeter of the two. On the chili heat scales, they rate a 4 – 6 out of 10. Choose bright-colored, glossy peppers that are firm with medium to thick flesh, avoid soft spots. Store refrigerated, unwashed in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.
I have to mention it, even so, I know everyone is aware of it, be very careful when you are handling fresh chili peppers; I recommend wearing vinyl kitchen gloves. Otherwise, if you don’t properly wash your hands after handling the peppers, they can really hurt your skin and lips, and be sure to avoid touching your eyes.
Chili peppers have demonstrated health benefits
They are packed with vitamins A & B and are also a good source of vitamin C. They are free from cholesterol and saturated fats, low in calories, and high in fiber. All of this plays an important role in keeping our bodies running like a well-oiled machine.
No worries Lacto-fermented foods are safe to make at home
Allow the hot sauce to ferment at room temperature. You will know if something goes “bad” the signs will be there, mold or a horrible smell will tell you that it’s time to make a new batch. Lacto-fermented foods are naturally preserved foods. They are made without heat, so you will never get the same storage time that you get with canned food. However, this is a great trade-off, since you get all of the live probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins that are destroyed in heat and canning.
Lacto-fermented hot sauce is not a shelf-stable sauce. Kept in the refrigerator it will keep for 4 to 5 months.
I’m not worried about shelf life since the small batch I make is gone in no time. Enjoy and move forward with confidence, Lacto-fermentation is easy!
Lacto Fermented Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce
- 1 cup Fresno peppers stems removed, sliced
- 2 garlic clove
- 1/2 tbsp sea salt, fine ground
- 1 cup water purified
Make the brine
- Make the brine by heating up 1 cup of purified water with 1/2 tablespoon of good-quality sea salt. Stir the brine until salt is dissolved and let the brine cool to room temperature.1/2 tbsp sea salt, fine ground, 1 cup water
- Place the sliced peppers and smashed garlic in a Mason jar. Pour brine into the Mason jar, to cover the peppers and the garlic. Make sure peppers are covered with brine.2 garlic clove, 1 cup Fresno peppers
- Cover the Mason jar tightly with lid and set in a cool place. Shake the jar daily to prevent mold from forming. After about two days, small bubbles will start to build and the fermentation process has started.
- Ferment for 1 week or longer. Once fermentation is complete, drain and reserve brine and place peppers and garlic in a food processor, add brine as needed. Add brine a tablespoon at a time and blend until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer to a Mason jar cover with a lid and keep in the refrigerator.
Chef's tip:Sriracha Style fermented hot sauce with honey - blend your fermented hot sauce with honey, add a little granulated sugar for additional sweetness and you have a great dipping sauce.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate
I grow Fresnos in the summer (as they are not readily available in New England in the cooler months) just to make this sauce. We all love it – especially on oysters!!
Thank you for sharing your feedback. I love hot peppers, looking out of my window at bushes of beautiful Fresno and Thai peppers 🙂
Glad you all love the recipe. Sounds just about perfect on Oysters 🙂
This recipe is absolutely delicious. I make it for y friends as gifts and they always ask when it is coming. I love it on so many things: eggs, Mexican dishes, raw oysters – you name it!
I am about 1.5 weeks in and the brine has turned a bit cloudy… Is this a sign something has gone wrong?
I ferment my peppers for one week. You will know if something goes “bad” the signs will be there, mold or a horrible smell will tell you that it’s time to make a new batch.
Cloudy is normal, I believe it is the proteins of the pepper breaking down into the water.