Lactobacillus (and others!) Fermented Hot Sauce – Tasting Notes

There’s a good reason that the tasting notes for this took so long time appear, and that’s because it took a fair few weeks to ferment!

Initially it sat about for a couple of days sitting around doing pretty much zip, and then magically sprung to life and started making these big old gas pockets in the pepper pulp and a very definite watery layer started to appear from the bottom up.

20150207_222846Then it really got into it’s stride and at one point was pushing the sauce out of the top of the bottle.

After a few more weeks, nearly all of the pulp turned to a viscous liquid and I declared the fermentation done.  I’m sure I could have kept it a lot longer, but I’m an impatient sort and I wanted some sauce to splash on my food.

I strained the mash into a jug, pumped up the volume by about a third using white vinegar (as this should help to preserve it, in or out of the fridge)

Then it was time for bottling.  One of the girls in our staff restaurant at work has been saving Tabasco bottles up for me – which has been very helpful.  I had to use a syringe to get it into the weeny openings on the bottles, which is a bit of a faff – but it’s no biggie.

IMG-20150312-WA0004The finished sauce smells and looks great – a really nice Tabasco orangey-red…for about an hour – and then it starts to separate.  Really badly.  A quick shake solves it, but it’s a bit disappointing.  I’ll probably make it a lot thicker next time and not use as much water in the volume.

Taste wise it’s hot, but not powerfully so and the garlic-fruitiness is well to the fore.  I’ve been through a lot of this sauce in a very short time and will definitely be making it again.  It’s too nice not to!

Lactobacillus (and others!) Fermented Hot Sauce

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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.

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DO NOT WASH ANY OF THESE INGREDIENTS…
6x fat hot red chillies
2x Scotch Bonnet chillies
1x carrot
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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

We’ll see…

Further sources (ha, see what I did there?) of information:

https://matthumbard.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/food-fermentation-1-fermented-hot-sauces/

http://kitchenlib.com/basics/why-i-dont-use-whey-as-a-vegetable-fermentation-starter/

Yeast stir-plate build

You can tell when this home-brewing has stopped being just a hobby and become a weird obsession; it starts with a bit of canned kit brewing, then you go to extract and before you know it you’re doing all-grain.  Then you start building temperature controllers, brew-fridges and all manner of other shite that clutters up your house.  For my money, the ultimate “you’ve getting into this too deep” accessory is the yeast stir-plate.

Eh?  Whassat?

A stir-plate is just a way of keeping a yeast starter in constant motion and adding in a steady supply of oxygen – so that when you come to pitch the yeast starter into the wort, your yeasty mates are in perfect condition.

People who ferment their beer from yeast starters report better attentuation in their fermentation, improved taste in the finished beer and increased virility in the bedroom.

I’m also hoping that it’ll mean that I can culture up yeasts from bottles of commercial beer that I’ve particularly enjoyed (Hook Norton, Adnams and crazy Belgian beers especially)

There are already tons of posts and articles on other blogs detailing how they made their stir plates and why they make starters, etc.  So I’m going to just include the information here that I found useful and had to hunt around for, plus some pictures of my incredibly shoddy workmanship (it’s no surprise that I work in IT and am not a craftsman or tradesman)

20150122_201031It’s basically a lunchbox, with a computer fan, some neodymium (rare earth) magnets, a rheostat and an old phone transformer.

Here’s the parts list and where they came from:

  • Lunchbox from the cheapskates shop (£1.39)
  • 5v Phone Charger (Free from the parts bin at work)
  • 12v PC case fan (1x bottle of homebrew to the guys in desktop support at work)
  • 50x 10mm x 1mm rare earth magnets ( £3 or so from fleabay, I used six of them)
  • 1x 25ohm 3Watt Rheostat (£4 fleabay)
  • Electrical tape and Blu-tack
  • Some m4 long shank bolts and nuts to secure the fan to the lid of the lunchbox

As you can see I’ve very professionally attached the magnets to the fan hub using Blu-Tack.  It’s the only thing that worked.  “No more nails” was a dead loss.  Araldite would probably have worked:

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I wired the positive in to the central pole of the rheostat and the positive from the fan to the left pole.  This seemed to work OK.  I also had to use a 5v power supply as a 12v caused the fan to skitter around the room whenever powered on (with or without the rhesostat):

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Once we were all assembled I only had to put the Borosilicate 1L flask on top (£9 fleabay again) and drop in the smallish magnetic PTFE-covered stir-bar from the set I bought (7 pc set £9 fleabay)

With the rheostat set to about halfway you get a nice little whirlpool – which should be enough to get a starter going:

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..and if you really crank it up, you get a right old vortex!:

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