How to make fermented hot sauce from scratch.

I posted this in a chile thread, but figured this might be a place to make it more accessible.

Fermented chile hot sauce can be made with any fresh chile peppers except small ones and thai. They just don’t work as well. Also green jalapeos don’t work as well as ripe ones. I suggest cayenne varieties, habanero, etc.

To make an incredible fermented hot sauce takes at least a month, but very
little actual work.


I halve the chiles, wearing plastic gloves, and goggles and mask with the
superhots. Then I de-seed and de-vein them. I weigh them and add 5-7% by weight
of salt, and sometimes 2-5% sugar, and process very fine in a food processor.

Then I let them ferment in Ball jars with plastic lids (they started selling
plastic screw tops for the jars recently), filled to the top, in a dark place
in my basement. I seal them loosely at first so gas can escape. I tighten the
jars and shake them daily, then loosen the lids again, for the first few weeks.
This distributes everything and prevents mold. I have never had mold grow.
After a month they are usually fully fermented and you can tighten the lids and
let age, or process into the final sauce. I usually take a small amount of
starter or an old batch of chile paste to kick the fermentation into action. I
also buy a commercial yoghurt that has a large variety of pro-biotics, pour
into a paper towel lined strainer over a bowl and let it drain and use the
liquid (the whey) to add to the paste after it has fermented for two weeks.
This gives the fermentation a bit more zip. I may also add a teaspoon of sugar
at the two week point to get the paste to ferment more, and make more lactic
acid. This fermented hot sauce paste has great flavor as is, but to make it
truly shelf stable I want to raise the acidity slightly. I don’t heat treat
this paste at all, it will have enough salt and acidity when finished.

To make the sauce I first make a 2:1 distilled white vinegar:water solution.
Then I add this 1:1 to the fermented chile paste, and run for a minute or two
on high in my blender. To thicken it, because I like a slightly thick sauce
that I can control the pour, I may add a small amount of xanthan gum powder to
the sauce while it is in the blender, a tiny bit at a time, like 1/8th teaspoon
each time until it is a bit looser than I want. Then one more minute of
blending for the shearing action of the blender to fully activate the xanthan
gum. I then jar or bottle it. It should have a pH of 3.2 or less, if not I may
add some citric acid or more vinegar until it hits this point.

I make several varieties of chile sauce from my peppers. A superhot Ghost
sauce, a superhot Carolina Reaper sauce, a very hot habanero sauce, a hot
habanero sauce using 1/3 habaneros and 2/3 perfume habaneros, a mixed cayenne
using whatever of the 14 types of cayennes, this differs in flavor, but has
that characteristic base flavor. I have still to finish off a batch of Thai
Dragon chile sauce. This was made with seeds and all, since the peppers are to
small to easily de-seed. I just have to finish it off with the vinegar solution
and zanthan gum in the blender. It’s been aging at room temp. for around 6-7
months now.

This process of fermenting and finishing the sauce gives you a sauce with
all the flavor of the chiles, and nothing else except a bit of acidity from the
vinegar to make the flavor pop.

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Nice instructable.

I think it’s neat that you add bacteria cultures from yogurt when yogurt makers who want a natural starter have used chili stems. Full circle!

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I make a similar one, only I refrigerate it.

I only leave it on my counter (dark spot), for a week with the plastic (Saran wrap), cover and then after that, I cover it tightly (ball jar top). It keeps in the refrigerator for months.

I do add a bit of sugar to the vinegar and a garlic clove to the Thai chilies.

I found the recipe online a few years ago and it’s so easy, I never buy it any longer.

Seamunky, That’s why I don’t start with the yogurt cultures, but use the naturally occurring ones in the peppers first, with mayber some sauce from a previous batch. The whey from yogurt is added at the two week point. Just to have the extra pro-biotics in there since it is a live, not hot processed sauce.

Oh, and to check the pH I use an inexpensive digital probe meter like the Hanna Instruments Checker portable pH meter which I got for $33 on Amazon, plus some buffering solution, and pH calibration solutions, which cost about $4-6 a small bottle that will last forever.

I have also seen $13 meters on Amazon, which I haven’t tried but will order one to keep in my consulting travel bag.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2