Time for another small departure from the norm…this time it’s a fermented hot sauce. I had to do quite a bit of research on this one as there are so many sources (geddit?) of information and recipes on the web, that it all got a bit confusing.
Before you go “eurgh!” just remember that Tabasco sauce is a fermented chilli sauce and they ferment it for something like three years! (http://www.tabasco.com/tabasco-products/how-its-made/making-original-tabasco-sauce/)
So eventually I came up with the following list of ingredients. As long as you have the salt, water and chillies you can forget the rest – I only include them because I want something that’ll work – the other ingredients just being providing either sugar for the Lactobacillus (and friends) or additional flavouring.
2x Scotch Bonnet chillies
1/2 a sweet pepper
3x garlic cloves
1x 330cl of bottled water (don’t use tap water, it has chlorine in it)
1 and 1/2 table spoons of sea salt
1x outer cabbage leaf
I took the bottled water and brought it to the boil and then dissolved the salt in it. Don’t use iodised salt, use sea salt – it’ll work better (apparently)
Then I roughly chopped the peppers and put them in the hand blender pot with the other veg (but not the cabbage leaf). I poured just enough of the salted water in to allow me to blend the lot to a reasonably smooth consistency.
I chopped the cabbage leaf finely and stirred that into sauce mix.
After sanitising my bottle, I transferred the lot into it and made sure that it was just covered with a bit more of the salted water and then put sanitised tin foil over the bottle top.
Now I leave it and try not to faff about with it – before long the Lactobacillus should get going on it. I’ve no idea when it’s finished, or even when it’ll start. Talk about flying blind. I took a quick taste and it’s quite nice as it and very hot indeed. Lovely.
What’s going on in the background:
Apparently we have to provide a warm, dark and salty environment to allow the Lactobacillus to get to work – Lactobacillus is the prime fermenter in Sauerkraut, which is why I’ve included a cabbage leaf in this recipe – cabbage leaves tend to harbour Lactobacillus bacteria naturally (hence the “no washing” advice”!)
As the Lactobacillus gets going it’ll convert the natural sugars from the chillies and veg into lactic acid, which should work as a preservative – as the environment will be far too acidic to support spoilage bacteria, moulds or whatever.
Further sources (ha, see what I did there?) of information: