How to make fermented hot sauce from scratch.

Thank you, for that reminder and for clarifying things.
Ive been trying to check pH with testers I agree have, but two were for soil ( one labled NEVER put in liquids; oops!), one didn’t work, even with new batteries, and one I couldn’t seem to calibrate.
I bought a new, hopefully better one, along with some Essig Essence, and new mason jar accessories to simplify holding the peppers down.
I have soooo many sugar rush peach peppers; I can probably pull together a source of red color.


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That’s a new one! To test soil, one usually uses 2 parts distilled water to one part soil, which is mixed and allowed to sit for some hours before submerging the probe to get a reading.

That newfangled fermenter setup with the stainless spring is too cool! Thanks for the tip! It’s a good solution for those of us who “sample” and remove pickles during a ferment. And, it makes checking on taste/progress easier. The same company also makes stainless sprouting helpers, which I couldn’t resist.

I’m glad the Sugar Rush Peach are productive there. Here, it was the same: branches dripping with peppers. For a Capsicum baccatum, it’s very tolerant of hot weather.

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Finally doing it.
I calculated salt based on the weight of the peppers, and then wodered why some use the volumecof water, or even peppers+water!

This might be handy

Having fun!


I’m thinking added too much salt for a brine. I’ve got more peppers. Maybe I can fix it.

Still having fun! :woozy_face:

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Looks good!
These type of claculations always make me happy I was raised metrically :wink:

What are you using to keep the chili’s down? Looks metal.
Shouldn’t be a problem for a short while, but remember that the brine solution is quite corrosive

Alright! Looks like you’ve got a tasty and hot mix going.

Thank you for the handy links! Excellent information and the calculator is most handy.

Metric is the way to go to figure out salt levels. It’s important to keep in mind some details about what one is fermenting:

When using a salt brine, salt + water, to achieve, say, a 2% brine, the ultimate brine concentration will DROP depending on how much water is in the vegetables. Cucumbers, for example, have a lot of water in them and that 2% brine may drop below 1%. That’s why a higher brine concentration (more salt/water) is recommended for cucumbers. It’s also why many fermenters prefer to use the weight of the vegetables to set the salt amount, since vegetables are mostly water.

Fortunately, the bacteria aren’t too picky. As long as the salt level doesn’t drop too low, oxygen is excluded and the food(s) is under the brine, things usually work out. Each person has to determine if the product is too salty for them, or it tastes good. Record keeping is key.

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If you scroll up, shrinkrap has information on those fermenters. “Stainless Steel” has a lot of formulas; apparently the 316 stainless is very salt and acid resistant, owing to molybdenum in the metal. Wineries use stainless steel fermenting vats (often 304 stainless) and that’s often long-term in an acidic environment.

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I read over that part

I am a bit confused here. In making sauerkraut, I have always calculated my salt based on my raw cabbage weight, and by 24 hours there is enough liquid drawn out of the cabbage to cover it. I only add brine if the liquid gets too low.
I just made a batch of mixed peppers, 2.5% salt by weight. I lightly chopped it and mashed it, and now it has enough fluid to easily cover the peppers in the jar. Why am I adding brine?

Nice! Are you using something to keep the peppers submerged? If so, what?

I do. I use a straight sided crock, with glass weights. I don’t use this crock for anything else - I use polish style fermenters for sauerkraut. I don’t like introducing anything plastic into the ferment, but some people use a water filled zip lock under the weights. I usually have cabbage around, so I use a cabbage leaf under the weight. I suppose you could also make a parchment paper circle to go under the weights, but I have never done that. I don’t see that it impacts the taste of the pepper ferment.


Some peppers, notably those which are less fleshy, contain less water and may not exude enough liquid to cover the peppers adequately. Any dried peppers will need brine to ferment. I love adding smoked Moritas to some suaces. Most recommend at least an inch of liquid over the fermenting product(s). Adding brine is not necessary in many cases. With most fresh pepper ferments, I start with the salt and peppers, wait 3–4 hours, and if there is not enough liquid, just add a little water.

Brine can also be useful when fermenting a mix of vegetables, or if fermenting powerfully hot peppers which benefit from a bit of dilution in the final product. It’s also helpful if fermenting chunky or whole (sliced/punctured) peppers, and when you want to set up the ferment after experience has shown you that extra water is needed.

Adding a cabbage leaf under the weights, using the leaf as a “follower” is a great idea. Most brassicas, especially heading types, have a number of lactic acid bacteria or spores on their foliage. Good to know it doesn’t harm the flavor.


Still a little bubbling, salty, and the peppers are spicy.


Looks good! And there’s where brine comes in, whole, halves or chunky peppers. Just as with cucumbers in brine, you can pour it off for blending or lift the peppers out for use.

How long has the ferment been going? Generally, mashes or finely chopped vegetables ferment quicker.

Have you been happy with the results, so far?

I just did a ferment with mild (true) Rocotillos, as a mash. Before chopping up the peppers, they were weighed and the salt added was 3.3% by weight. A little water was needed to submerge the mash, as Rocotillos aren’t very juicy. Thanks shrinkrap; I used the same jar setup you tipped us to!

Ending pH was 3.64. After adding 7 teaspoons (35ml) 0f Essig Essenz (25% Acetic Acid vinegar) to 3 cups (0.71L) of mash, the pH dropped to 3.32 and the flavor not too vinegary. This should be shelf-stable; but, just to make sure, I vacuum-sealed the jar. If it starts fermenting again, gasses will pop the seal. Vacuum-sealing a pickled pepper product helps preserve the color until you open the jar.

Ultimately, the Rocotillo ferment will get blended with a very hot vinegar-pickled pepper, likely a mix of Jamaican Red Goat and Grenada Hot Red.

It’s been just over three weeks. To be honest, I’m not sure what I should be looking for. I’m not unhappy!

Once the ferment is done, the peppers should have a pleasant tartness and have a pH somewhere between 3-4. I don’t know how to describe the lactic-ferment taste; it’s less bold than vinegar, and seems less sour.

Fermented vegetables keep for some weeks in the fridge, but if you plan on storing them longer, you’ll want to bump the pH down with vinegar or Essig Essenz. The latter is not to be consumed undiluted, being 5 times stronger than regular vinegar.

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Bogman, what formula did you se to calculate the amount of Essence to add. I have never used this, but I might give it a try. I think I know from working backwards in your post, but just to be sure.

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I would love to try one with chiltecpins.