It’s been too long, maybe actual hours, since the last chilli featured in our lives. Well, that’s not strictly true as we eat chilli with most meals and are compulsively checking the nursery of chilli seeds for germination and leaf growth. So to be more honest, we have not made a chilli product in a while and, after the scrummy success of the fermented jars, we are itching to experiment. Tricky though, as homegrown fresh chillies are not easily forthcoming in January in the UK. However, a local supermarket comes up with the goods. Let’s get fermenting!
We’ve been discussing other ingredients for the fermenting jars. Pineapple is on the list, as is ginger, turmeric root, rose petals, cola, bay, mango and lemongrass. With this far flung candy box of ingredients in mind, my attentions turn to our stores. What do we have that can be bubbled up in a jar and turned into a tasty chilli sauce?
It turns out we have some peaches, jalapeños, white onion, lime, garlic and coriander seed. Chopped up, salted and topped up with water. Current status: inert. Give it a couple of days in the sunny windowsill and Mather Nature will work her magic.
Fermenting jar of peaches, white onion, limes, garlic, jalapeños, salt and coriander seed. Top up with water and twist on the lid.
In the lull before the growing season, what to do? Two out of three seed orders have arrived but it seems silly to start chitting without the other seeds. Email query sent, the thumbs are twiddling again. Ahhh, the fermented chillies! That’s what we can do.
At the end of the harvest season we collected and bottled a range of chillies. Not vast quantities but enough to play with. One jar of whole Prairie Fire chillies (plus garlic, turmeric and ginger slices). The chillies were too hot, too small and too seedy to be of much use. Another jar filled with deseeded red Scotch Bonnet chillies and a last jar of mixed peppers (Aji Limon, Bulgarian Carrot, Fresno, Big Bomb & Jalapeños) all deseeded with garlic. Salt and water was added and the ferment was ON!
The jars were left on the south facing windowsill. They made a beautiful display. Then things got a bit lively. Fizzing and overflowing despite the lids being screwed on super tight. Saucers were put under the jars and they were left to continue their journey. They’ve been sitting there since October, quietly bubbling, fermenting and developing a wonderful flavour.
It turns out that making a fermented hot sauce is not tricky at all. Strain the contents of the jar. Whizz up the chillies with a bit of the fermenting water, some apple cider vinegar and this case, some honey. Other flavours can be added at any stage of the process. Cook it up and/or can it if you want it to halt the fermenting process there & keep outside of the fridge. If not, it will keep for a month or so in the fridge, and will continue to ferment.
And the end result? Fermented super hot Prairie Fire chillies make…yes you guessed it…a super hot chilli sauce. The mixed peppers made a more orangey hued sauce. Hardly any heat (although maybe my mouth was numb from tasting the Prairie Fire sauce?) Yummy all round flavour. The Scotch Bonnet sauce is beautiful. An almost glowing scarlet sauce with a stunning flavour. Hot, yes, but the flavour is worth it. Off to order some more Scotch Bonnet seeds for this year, despite the Chinense category being over subscribed already.