Fermented chilli sauce

Fermented chilli sauce recipe

I am a big fan of Tabasco sauce. 

I am sure it is a well protected recipe so have not been able to find much to go off - although I believe it is fermented in barrels for at least 3 years. I have been experimenting with length of ferment, type of chilli, and ratio of vinegar and salt for 5 years now, although I have never been patient enough to leave a batch for 3 years... I've hit a combination I am pretty happy with.

I ferment my chilli sauce in a sterilised glass jar with a one way valve. I find this approach really practical as you don't have to burp the jars, and you can leave them in the jar for a long time without any spoilage if you happen to get busy!

To ferment chillies, I harvest a big batch of red chillies (you can slowly collect this in the freezer over a season if you don't have bulk chillies). My favourite combination of chillies has been a mix of my neighbours tobasco chillies with long cayenne chillies. Don't worry about the quantity as you will base measurements on the final fermented product - you just need enough to justify a batch!

Place them in a food processer (I don't take the tops off for this as I think they add to the flavour, and you do not need to thaw if using some frozen chillies) and process until a uniform chilli seed size. 

Mix 1 tsp salt through the chilli mash (my jar is 1L so increase salt if you are using a much larger jar). Place into the sterilised fermenting jar and leave for a minimum of 8 weeks (anywhere up to 3 months). I have added vegetable culture before with a nice resulting flavour, however it will ferment with or without this addition.

Place through a fine food mill or sieve. Discard the seeds. Measure the juice.

For every 450ml of fermented chilli juice, add 150ml of white wine vinegar and 1.5tsp salt.

It is important to taste test as you go with the salt, as you may need a little more or less depending on the initial quantity of chillies to salt ratio during the fermentation phase.

Bottle into sterilised jars. Store in the fridge. It lasts months this way. 

Next experiment = barrel ageing (for 3 years if I can make it!) and a green chilli sauce with jalapeno's. 



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