Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled cayenne peppers. A peck of pickled cayenne peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled cayenne peppers, where’s the peck of pickled cayenne peppers Peter Piper picked? He made hot sauce, that’s where.
OK. Way back when I first started this blog I did a post on Pickled Chipotle Chiles and pointed out I was a chilehead. Baby Lady & I love chiles, although she’s a little El Paso chilehead and likes her food hotter than me. In fact, she makes a chile de arbol salsa with the chiles, water, a little garlic, onion, salt and water. She blends it up and eats it with popcorn, chips and her eggs in the morning. It’s a tad bit too spicy for me. Someday we may post it but not today and I digress. We like chiles so much that we constantly grow them in the backyard. We plant jalapeño peppers, Serrano pepper, cayenne pepper, chile tepin, Anaheim peppers, banana peppers, Hungarian peppers, bell peppers and a wickedly hot little yellow pepper that I don’t know its name. These are great chile peppers that we use fresh when we cook. Each one has its own character, flavor and heat level. The cayenne peppers have done beautifully this year
but they are the ones we have the most difficult time using and I refuse to waste them. I had toyed with the idea of drying and powdering them but that seemed such a waste. Then it dawned on me. We use a fair amount of hot sauce so why not make our own. So off to the internet I went trying to find a good hot sauce recipe. Everywhere I turned I found all sorts of recipes for cayenne chiles and vinegar. People claimed this was the same as Dave’s Insanity Sauce. Although it was tempting I wanted something that was aged. So I thought a little more and figured if I could brine cucumbers to make pickles then why couldn’t I brine cayenne chiles and make a hot sauce? The lactobacilli bacteria would give the peppers a nice tang and the peppers would keep their heat. Add a little garlic for additional flavoring. Why not give it a try? So I did and the results are in.
This produced a delightfully flavorful hot sauce. It’s very vibrant. It has a touch of natural sourness from the fermentation process; nice saltiness from the brine; and a nice bold flavor and kick from the cayenne peppers. Surprisingly, however, it’s not very spicy. Store bought Tabasco sauce has more spice to it. Nonetheless, this has incredible flavor, similar to Louisiana Hot Sauce. So if you’re looking at trying your hand at making a natural hot sauce, give this a try. Please note that there are 3 updates to this recipe because I keep tinkering with it. So, read all of the way through. This sauce is really fabulous.
- Ripe cayenne peppers, stemmed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- purified water (not tap water)
While some of our readers may think this is rocket fuel, this really aint rocket science. First, sterilize a 1 pint jar and lid.
Add the cayenne peppers and garlic to the pint jar filing it as best you can.
Cover the cayenne peppers with bottled spring water or water filtered through reverse osmosis. Now, some of you are asking why bottled water? Well my friends, tap water contains Chloramine to prevent disease causing bacteria and pathogens. Chloramine (as CI2) is formed when ammonia is added to water containing free chlorine. So if you remove the chlorine, the ammonia stays. This will inhibit the production of lactobacilli bacteria and create other issues when you pickle something. So don’t use tap water. If you must use tap water, add 1 tsp white vinegar to the brine to help “kick start” the fermentation process.
Place lid on top and tighten securely. Place in a cool (68 – 75 F), dark place. Now, here’s the hard part. LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 2 WEEKS!
After 2 weeks have passed, place chiles, garlic and brine in a blender and blend at its highest speed for 1 minute.
Pour into cute jars for later use.
I have since made 2 more batches of this stuff and gave it away as Christmas gifts.
As you can see, one batch was another red hot sauce and the other was green.
After the first batch, I tried another batch using the same basic ingredients EXCEPT I got more chiles, cut them into 1 inch thick rings, added 12 dried chile de arbol for some added heat, added a couple more garlic cloves, used a 1 Qt jar, made a brine using roughly 3 cups water and 2 Tbsp salt, poured the brine over the chiles until covered, placed a weight on top of the chiles to keep them submerged, put the lid, ignored it for 2 weeks, ran it through the Vita-Mix and strained it. The results were wonderful! It had considerably more heat, was thicker and had tons of flavor.
The second batch was green because I was trying to use the remaining chiles before the first frost/freeze and they were green. This time, however, I used my Harsch/Gartopf fermenting crock and the following
6 cups garden fresh green chiles (cayenne & spicy Hungarian), stemmed and sliced
1/4 large white onion, peeled and chopped
2 chipotle mora chiles for some smokiness
1 tsp Mexican oregano
12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 qt bottled water
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Notice the 1 little red cayenne. He was lonely all by himself. 😉 Now, all we do is cover it and let it ferment for 3 weeks.
This produced an unbelievably flavorful sauce. The sauce, however, was a little thin for my tastes (too much water) and was not as hot as I wanted. Nevertheless, I am now hooked on making my own hot sauce and my friends loved their Christmas Gifts. 😀 We hope we have inspired you to experiment with your own pickled hot sauce.
UPDATE 2 – 9/7/2013
Well, I bottled the 4th batch of this hot sauce today and let me tell you, this is the best one yet!
Doesn’t this one look good??? It’s very thick, spicy and very flavorful. I did this one significantly different from the others. I learned from the 3rd batch that I really liked the flavor of the onion in the sauce, so I continued it in the 4th batch but used red onion. Red onions have a stronger, spicier flavor and their color will come out in the brine. Because we only planted 1 cayenne plant this year, I didn’t have as many chiles. Hence, I went back to the pint jar method but very thinly sliced the cayenne peppers to have more chiles per volume than the original batch. The ingredients are as follows:
- 1-2/3 cup sliced, fresh cayenne peppers
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup red onion, small dice
- Bottled water to cover
- 1 Tbsp Rice vinegar (after the brining process has completed)
Put everything in a sterilized pint jar.
Add bottled water to cover. Leave 1/4 – 1/2″ head space, place lid on top and tighten down. Now, someone in the comments asked me what to weight the veggies with to keep them submerged. You don’t. When you pickle veggies in brine, the veggies will release their own water. By leaving the head space, the liquid from the veggies are released and fills the void. Also, as the veggies pickle in the brine, they release CO2. Between the CO2 which is heavier than oxygen and the liquid released from the veggies, you establish an anaerobic environment (one without oxygen) which inhibits the development of mold & yeast. These are good things. 🙂 Now, like all of the other batches, let it sit for 2+ weeks. The longer it sits, the more it will sour. I let this batch sit for 2-1/2 weeks. I then put this in my Vitamix blender. You really need a very powerful blender to completely liquify the veggies and skin of the chiles. I also did not strain this one as I had the others. This had a wonderful flavor and was very thick. Because it was so thick, it need to be thinned somewhat but not a lot. Obviously, more water was simply out of the question. Because Baby Lady really likes the vinegary flavor of commercially produced hot sauces, I decided to add 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar. I chose rice vinegar because it is a lower acidity vinegar and has a milder, sweeter flavor. The result is truly remarkable. It is like nothing you have ever tasted in a commercial hot sauce. It’s thick enough to adhere to whatever you use it with be it eggs, fries, fish, whatever. You can look at the bottles and tell how thick the sauce is; yet it’s not too thick to prevent it from pouring well. It has a full, robust, spicy chile flavor coupled with the flavors of the onion, garlic and salt with a nice tang from the natural fermentation and rice vinegar added at the end. Hopefully, you will try this and give it your own spin. If you do, let us know what you did and how you liked it.
UPDATE 3 – 11/14/2013
I just started another batch. We had our first freeze warning so we picked the peppers remaining on the plant. I had hoped they would all turn red but if it actually froze (it didn’t) and I left them on the plant I would have been very upset with myself. Here is the bounty of the cayenne pepper harvest – approximately 2 lbs of chiles.
We also harvested the few New Mexico Greens (Big Jim) we had, some guajillo chiles, some remarkably mild jalapeños and some serranos. These chiles, however, will be used for something other than hot sauce.
This really is the 6th batch as we made another batch following the second update in October that is out of this world. The difference was we added some homegrown herbs to the recipe and a little more water so that it wouldn’t be too thick. We also let it ferment for a full 4 weeks. The results were stunningly good. The extra 2 weeks added a little more sourness to the sauce and was divine. We continued in this fashion with this batch. We’re really looking forward to this Christmas batch. 🙂
- 1 lb cayenne peppers, thinly sliced (red cayennes for red sauce & green cayennes for green sauce)
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and chopped (roughly 2.5 oz)
- 1 medium red onion (white onion for the green sauce)
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
- 4 Tbsp sea salt
- Bottled water (do NOT use tap water) to cover (roughly 24 oz.)
Now, these ingredients are for 1 lb. of cayenne peppers. Inasmuch as I had 2 lbs of cayenne peppers, to make the batch of red and the batch of green, the recipe is doubled. Put everything into a 2 qt jar. I like to layer everything because I put it in the jars as I go but you can do it anyway you want. Remember, in the end you’re going to run it all through a blender anyway. Put the lid on tightly and place in a dark place for 4 weeks. I actually waited 5 weeks this time. This made 6-1/2 cups of red and 7 cups of green. Very tasty, indeed. Once you try this, you may never buy hot sauce again. I won’t.
UPDATE 4 – 7/7/2015
This will probably be my last update on this post. I have continued to experiment with the technique. I have used more onion, less onion, different herbs and spices, and longer fermenting time, etc. I have varied the fermenting time to 6 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks. The last batch was almost entirely diced green cayenne peppers and fermented 12 weeks. After 12 weeks the mash developed an unpleasant aftertaste and I threw the whole batch (2 Qts) away 😦 . I find that the best flavor from this technique comes with 6 weeks of fermentation. 2 weeks of fermentation is fine and will provide you the flavor of the cayenne pepper with little to no sourness/tang from the lactobacillus. Acidity/tang can always be provided with the addition of a little vinegar at the end. 4 – 6 weeks of fermentation develops the sourness/tang from the process and anything after that begins to develop an off-putting aftertaste.
If you try making your own hot sauce using this lacto-fermentation technique we would love to hear about your thoughts, process and results.