So a few months back I was reading a post by one of my favourite food bloggers Hank Shaw, and he opened my mind to more fermentation that I really enjoy but never really put it together. A fermentation that is more than a delicious, complex way to get you wasted, A fermentation employed by, apparently, a lot more people than I had realized, including an old standby. Tobasco. Being no stranger to fermented goods and barrel aging things to delicious effect, I decided to try my hand at hot sauce. I started by doing what anyone else would, I sent a link to the friend who uses as much hot sauce as I do, and said let's do it.
So here we are now into October and our fermentation is now underway, here is how we got to that point...
We started with the collection of a few of our favourite things from a lot of different recipes on the line. We liked the idea of a toasted oak element so off to VA for a 3L barrel. We also really liked the idea of adding a few spices to the mix. In this regard it is easy to go to The Silk Road Spice Merchant and get inspired. After much spice smelling I decided to get most of the components for a garam masala. We didn’t want a pre-made garam because of the content of sweet spices. dialing back the cinnamon and clove we moved forward. The last thing we really liked the idea of was using a natural fruit sugar to aid along the fermentation. Enter Moscato d’Asti. Off-dry and sweet wines get a bad rap, but in my mind there is nothing wrong with a great chuggable, but that is a rant for another day. So once again I find myself back at VA for some wine.
Last but not least of course is the peppers. We didn't photograph all of them so our blend can remain proprietary… or something like that, maybe we just forgot. But to name a few that aren't present in this gallery, scotch bonnets and habaneros were both in the final mix. We had a great time at the farmer’s market filling bag after bag with beautifully coloured peppers and then handing those bags off to our women until they got tired of carrying our shit and gave it all back.
With mix bag of peppers in hand we set about preparing our project. A couple things to keep in mind while you chop peppers: Firstly, wear gloves! Oils from hot peppers get on everything, and they stay on everything and the make life unpleasant around any skin you touch for hours/days after contact. Secondly, start with another drinkable fermented product. I can not stress how much better life can be with the (health) benefits of drink, whatever your choice, wine, beer, cider or spirit, have some during your preparation. With a cheers we dive in.
With the chopping and jarring and weighing complete we added just over 2% salt by volume of pepper to help with the baddies. We then added our own blend of spices with quantities based on what we know of the spices as well as what our noses told us they should be. We dissolved the salt and such into the peppers with our brining liquid which we used the mighty moscato for some of and a beer for the rest. Being experimental is super fun and I can’t wait for the violent first fermentation to be over so we can taste the difference between the beer and wine in the sauce. But for now we wait. We wait until we can strain and put it into barrel, we wait for spices to integrate, we wait for yeasties and bacteria to work their devious magics, and we wait for delicious to happen.