Here’s a new one for our annual chili harvest. We rescued so many green jalapenos and other spice peppers before the frost that we need to invent new ways to preserve them. Last year, I had such a super abundance of red peppers that I held a personal cook-off. I suppose I could have waited for the green ones to turn red, but there’s something about their grassiness that is worth preserving as is.Fermenting is a healthful and flavorful way of preserving, and I routinely have small batches of kimchi and sauerkraut in my fridge … and these vivid and intense peppers. They are simple to prepare. Grind jalapeno peppers, garlic and salt to a paste in a food processor and ferment it for a week before adding vinegar and lime juice (and a tad of honey to smooth it out) for a second week of fermenting. I like finishing the sauce with the acid but it’s good without as a raw ingredient.
Fermented Hot Pepper Sauce adapted from Bon Appetit online August 2015
1 lb green or red meaty hot chili peppers (such as jalapeno)
2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp kosher or pickling salt
½ c distilled white vinegar
½ c fresh lime juice
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Trim the peppers, removing stems, internal ribs and most of the seeds. Wear rubber gloves and don’t touch your eyes or mouth. (Seeds are the hottest part of peppers, so if you want to adjust the heat upward, include more seeds.) Place the peppers, garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor and buzz to a fine paste, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Cover with cheesecloth secured by a rubber band. Set aside at room temperature for five to seven days to ferment. If you ferment longer, the flavor will become more pronounced.
Transfer the chili mixture to a food processor, add vinegar, lime juice and honey, if using, and puree until smooth. Pour back into a clean glass jar. Cover with cheesecloth secured by a rubber band. Set aside at room temperature for at least two days and up to five days to continue the fermentation process.
Blend again in a food processor and store in the refrigerator in a clean glass jar, for up to six months.
Makes about 1 pint.