After yet another brief (ha) hiatus, I’m happy to be back! Without further ado. . .
My family and friends aren’t big on gifts, so when it comes time for them, I’m the kind of gal who would much prefer to think creatively and put together a less expensive gift that comes from the heart. Going to the store and buying something is so risky (as far as the person liking it as well as it being a possible waste of money on your part). I’d much rather risk a “. . . Thankkkkks” from something I made than something I bought, because I think with the love that goes into it, the odds are better they will like it even if it’s a little quirky.
My boyfriend loves dousing his food with hot sauce, so I thought making him his own blend from scratch would be something he’d enjoy. My talented mother has made her own using this method several times, so I knew what kind of results to expect. It’s so simple. Ready?
Pick out whatever chilies you like at your local produce market. There’s a range of heat and flavors and the wonderful Google can help you narrow down your choices. You might want to consider color, as well. A mix of green and red will yield a brownish sauce, so I opted for all green. I wanted options for flavor, so I chose thai peppers, jalapeños, and serranos.
Chop off the tops and toss them into a blender with a healthy dose of salt. I did each variety in its own batch so I could custom blend after they fermented.
I added two cloves of garlic for a little flavor boost.
This next step is key to expediting the fermentation process. My mom is super into this immune-boosting process, so I’ve had some time to get used to the idea. It’s a weird concept at first, but it’s how people have been preserving and eating food for thousands of years. In fact, even Tabasco is aged three years before being cooked, blended, and bottled. Back to the next step, which is to add a small amount of starter to the pepper blend. There are quite a few options, like whey, liquid from kefir, or in my case sauerkraut brine. I added about 1 tablespoon to each batch.
I labeled my jars to keep track of flavors for future sauces, and it was interesting to see how they fermented differently.
I added loose plastic wrap and lightly put on the lids (maybe 1/4 turn) to allow any excess gasses to escape. The below picture is how they looked after about seven days. It’s not very pretty, but all the stuff you see in stores is filtered and filled with coloring/preservatives to look appetizing to the masses.
The jalapeños actually ended up being my favorite, flavor-wise. I used all of that mixture and then a little of the other two (which were somewhat bitter) for their heat. I blended it all to a fine consistency and added a small amount of homemade vinegar to lighten it up and add some tang.
This is the point where store-bought sauces would be cooked, but I chose not to do that to leave all the good bacteria in there. Your gut will thank you for it! Just make sure to store your sauce in the fridge; the cold temperature will slow the fermentation to a tiny crawl and it will keep for a long time.
My final step was to bottle it up and add a silly label. Don’t judge my design skills; it was 3 a.m. and I had to get up three hours later. 🙂 Obviously, I was hamming it up. I found this adorable bottle at Marshalls.
See? Made with love. (And a little bit of orange nail polish.)
I was pressed for time, so I only fermented the peppers for a week before blending and bottling them. I plan on doing it again with other kinds of peppers and letting them ferment for a few weeks to yield a better flavor. S has already requested a spicier version using ghost peppers (ouch). More fun ahead!