The principle is the same as fermenting anything else – simply submerge the peppers in a brine, allow the natural bacteria and yeast to do their job, and give it some time. That’s it! It’s simple, but the end result is insanely good.
So, following the inspiration from Bon Appétit, I added in garlic, black peppercorns, Aleppo pepper, dried hibiscus and cardamom seeds into the mix. Based upon the flavor profile at the end, I feel that the garlic is instrumental in giving the sauce a very unique and rich flavor. I definitely would not leave it out. You can add in any other spices you prefer, I don’t think you can go wrong here.
Once you have all the peppers submerged in brine, it’s time to lid it and wait. Put a 4 oz mason jar on top of the peppers and fill it with some brine so it pushes down on the peppers to keep them submerged. Or put on a few glass weights. Just make sure everything is submerged or else mold may form on peppers that are sticking into the air. Loosely screw on a regular mason jar lid so that gases can vent, or put on your desired airlock type of lid. I also recommend sitting the jar in a tray or bowl to catch any brine that may bubble up and out of the jar. In a day or two, you will see lots of bubbles forming – it’s alive! The good bacteria and yeasts are fermenting the peppers and releasing their gases. This is why you need to have a lid that can vent because there will be a lot of pressure buildup in the jar.
Waiting two weeks may feel like forever, but it’s definitely worth it. The time will allow the flavors to meld and get funky. Once the time is up, strain off the brine and put all the peppers in a blender. Add in 1 cup of the brine and blend it for about 1 minute. If you want the sauce thinner, add more brine. If you want the sauce smoother, strain it through a sieve.
Blending up the peppers releases a ton of fiery gases into the air. It’s so potent that it will make you cough. I’m not even kidding! The first time I made a hotter version of this sauce, I was blending it up and when I took the lid off the blender, I started coughing immediately. Suddenly, the whole kitchen was filled with the strong stink of hot sauce. After a few minutes, I got used to it and I wasn’t coughing anymore. But then Andrey walked into the kitchen and started coughing immediately! It just hit him like a wall. After this experience, we smartened up and now blend the peppers outside with a fan to blow away the fumes. If you make a sauce with crazy hot peppers, I highly recommend that you blend the peppers outside and you may want to wear googles to keep the fumes out of your eyes.
Once the sauce is blended, put it in a little hot sauce bottle and keep the rest in a jar in your fridge. The small hot sauce bottle can be left out at room temperature or kept in the fridge, that is up to you.
If you are feeling nervous about fermentation, you should watch the YouTube video at the bottom of this post. I promise you, it’s so easy!