Fermented Hot Peppers and Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

This is a great end-of-season preserve.  We bought up the last of the hot peppers we could find to make a powerful hot sauce that will warm up our cooking all winter long.

I’ll start with the fine print: this recipe is not a preserve.  It should store in the fridge for plenty of time (we made 2 quarts of it) but we did not waterbath it.  I opted against canning it as this is also a fermented hot sauce and all of the goodness of fermenting (i.e. healthy bacteria) is killed by a waterbath. Storing this in the fridge slows the fermentation process and adding vinegar helps keep it stable.

The final product is very hot (it may settle a bit with time) while retaining the sour tang of the fermentation process and vinegar that was added.  It’s a fairly chunky consistency and it has a lot of flavor.


  • Hot peppers (this recipe uses a ratio so any number will do – we used a LOT).
  • Garlic (I use lots – they are in the fermentation as well)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Vinegar

Step 1 – Fermentation

When working with hot peppers it is always with considering working with gloves or risking the consequences of a hot pepper juice bath on your hands and anything they touch.

  1. Fill a large bowl with enough water to easily cover your peppers, measuring as you go.  Let the water sit for an hour if your tap water has chlorine in it – this will help remove it (which you need to do in order to ferment).
  2. dissolve salt for your brine.  After reading David’s article on Food with Legs, I opted for a 3.6% brine as opposed to my usual 5% mix.  I was thrilled with the results.  To create an approximate 3.6% solution, add 2 tablespoons of salt for every quart (30 ml per liter).  I tend to dissolve the salt in the least amount of water possible and then add that to the bigger bowl.  For example, to make 5 quarts of brine, you’d need 10 tablespoons os salt.  Pour 4.5 quarts of water into a bowl, dissolve the salt in half-a-quart of water and then combine and bring to room temperature.
  3. Wash your peppers, peel garlic.  Use as much of either as you’d like.
  4. Place your peppers and garlic in a crock (David shows you how to use a mason jars; you can see our version here as do we here) and cover with the room-temperature brine.
  5. Weigh the peppers down; we use plates to hold them in place and weigh that down with a mason jar filled with brine (don’t use water as it will dilute)
  6. Leave in a warm (i.e. not drafty) place in your house covered with a loose-fitting lid or towel to keep out the dust and bugs.
  7. Check your peppers each day – ideally all will stay submerged (if any float to the top, remove from the brine).  Skim any mould that forms (I use a fine colander for this purpose).  You can begin tasting after about 7 days.  I test them by feeling a pepper – it should be soft – but not mushy.  You can chop these up and eat them or cook with them as you go.
  8. Your peppers are done when they stop bubbling or reach the consistency that you like.  Our house is not the warmest these days so it took just over two weeks.

Making the hot sauce

Note that you may have to work in batches – I use two bowls at all times in this process – ingredients travel from one bowl to the food processor and into the second bowl to ensure everything gets well mixed.  You may also wish to work in a well-ventilated area.  This process can scatter the room with a lot of spicy flair.

  1. Remove the peppers are garlic from the brine (don’t discard the brine).  Blend fine with a food processor (I use a high-speed one to start the process before putting it in a larger one for a longer thrashing).
  2. Measure the puree.  We had 6 cups of garlic-pepper mash.
  3. Do the following steps a bit at a time (i.e. you may want to use less than the 2 cups of vinegar I use):
    1. Add vinegar to your mix.  My recommendation is 1/3 the volume of the mash (2 cups for us).
    2. Add brine to your mix.  My recommendation is 1/3 the volume of the mash (2 cups for us).  Remember that the brine now contains salt, a natural sour flavor and also packs some heat.
    3. Taste your concoction (I really wish I had something more than a spoon to taste them with).  You can add vinegar or brine to taste.
  4. Place in clean, resealable jars (I use mason jars) and place in fridge.

This is just awesomeness.

Leave a Reply

  1. Sounds interesting but I’m definitely wary of the idea of fermenting anything. My Jamaican mother taught me to pickle peppers with a bit of thyme, some onion, garlic and carrots and a few pimentos (for escoveitched fish!). Much like your fermentation, the peppers should be ready for a spin in the food processor after about 7 days and would make a great hot sauce – this way gives a much more tart result but is certainly not as salty.

  2. I ferment everything; Pickles, beets, cabbage, just about everything and I have never used any salt whatsoever … your don’t need it, just make sure everything is well steralized. Ed B.

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  5. I’m going to try this today with a batch of very hot Jalapenos from our garden. The plants are exploding with peppers, and it’s been a hot dry summer. This looks won-der-ful!!! Question, though, have you ever reused the extra pepper brine for anything…like starting a new batch, or to make pickled vegetables? Thanks! I just found your blog and need to go read more.

    • Hi Judy – let us know how it goes!

      I haven’t re-used the extra (mostly out of storage space issues) but it can definately be used for such… Now that you have me thinking about it I think I’ll marinate tofu or feta cheese with it (both in fridge) next time I have a bunch. 🙂 You could also use it for other ferments for sure!

  6. Could you also freeze this or would that hurt the good from the fermenting too? Thanks…this will be my first time to try and ferment anything.