Fermented Peppers

FINALLY! Am I right? We’ve been talking about this blog for a while now, and here it is! Really we wanted to use peppers from our own pepper plants, so there was a bit of a wait for them to produce enough. Then, of course, we had to wait for them to ferment for 4-5 weeks. Ah, how patience is a virtue. Speaking of patience, exciting stuff, our one-year fermented peppers have finished! We’ve had some jalapeños and banana peppers fermenting for over a year as of July 2nd, and OH MY they are amazing! The flavors are so unique and deep. If you really enjoy this fermented pepper recipe, they are fantastic after 5 weeks of fermentation; but definitely give patience a try and ferment some for a year. The probiotic population won't be as high after such a long ferment, but the flavors are worth it.  We love the peppers in burrito bowls, on tacos, on veggie pizza, and with a vegan cheese board. So now that the wait is over, here's the recipe! Enjoy!  

 
 

Fermented Peppers

Ingredients

Takes

Brine Method: The brine method we use to make fermented peppers is to weigh the peppers and add 4.0% of that weight in salt, then to add a 4.0% salt water solution. We use a high salt concentration when fermenting peppers because they are particulary prone to yeast growth. The reason for this is the smooth skin on the peppers and the fact that peppers grow on bush like plants. The brine method will be explained in the recipe steps. Read the science behind salt conenctration here.

We highly recommend just investing in a kitchen scale for about $10 from Target or Amazon. If you're going to master fermentation and select for the best probiotic bacteria in your ferments, you'll need one to weigh salt. Weighing is the only way to create an accurate salt concentration.  The scale we use in our home kitchen is this one.

Instructions

  1. First, make a 4.0% saltwater brine. To do this, put an empty large jar on your kitchen scale, and tare it. Fill the jar with warm filtered water and record the weight of the water (in grams).
  2. Next multiply the weight of the water by 0.04, the number you get is the amount in grams of salt you need to add to the water.
  3. Place a small separate bowl on your scale and tare it. Weigh out your Fermentation Salt in grams. 
  4. Add your salt to the water and stir it in until it dissolves. Then let the mixture cool. 
  5. While the salt water cools, chop your peppers however you desire. You can use jalapenos, pablanos, banana peppers, serrano peppers etc. just pick your desired heat level and go for it! We particularly love the way banana peppers ferment.  
  6. Place an empty bowl on your kitchen scale and tare it. Place the chopped peppers, garlic and the chopped shallot in the bowl and record the weight in grams. Using the same math method, multiply the weight of your combined peppers, shallots, and garlic by 0.04. The number you get is the grams of salt you need to add to the chopped veggies.
  7. Place a small separate bowl on your scale and tare it. Weigh out your Fermentation Salt in grams. 
  8. Add your salt to the peppers and mix until evenly distributed. If mixing with your hands, be sure to wear gloves. Hotter peppers can cause skin burns
  9. Once you have mixed in the salt thoroughly, it is time to add the mixture into a jar. We used a quart sized mason jar for this recipe. Before you add in the pepper pieces, you need to dump any liquid from the bowl into the jar. Then add in all the vegetable pieces.
  10. Place a fermentation weight in the jar to hold everything down. Then once the saltwater brine you made is cool, pour it over the vegetables and weight until everything, including the fermentation weight is submerged. 
  11. Store your fermentation jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. It should be kept in an area that stays around 70-75 degrees F
  12. During the first few days of fermentation carbon dioxide and  bubbles will be produced. You must make sure that your fermentation weight and peppers are staying submerged BELOW the brine. You may have to press everything down with a spoon/tamper a few times. 
  13. If you lose brine during the first few days (which is common in very full jars when bubbles are produced) use steps 1-4 to make a salt solution to replace the lost brine. Replacing lost brine can only be done during the first 4-5 days. Adding brine after that will dilute acid present in the ferment, disrupt bacterial sucession, and cause the ferment to not be properly preserved. 
  14. The peppers need to ferment for 4-5 weeks, so that all the stages of bacterial succession can occur. The time line is a little different from a cabbage fermentation, due to a different micorbial population on the peppers. 4-5 weeks also allows enough time for the final stage Lactobacillus bacteria to produce enough lactic acid. Visit our Science of Fermentation blog to read more about the stages of fermentation!
  15. We tracked our peppers throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages under the microscope we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline of pepper fermentation should approximately match ours!

    24 - 48 hours: all contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria and possible pathogens present.

    48 - 72 hours: After 48 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. and we mean A LOT. There will be way more bubbles than in a cabbage based fermentation. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Gram negative organisms die off.

    3 - 14 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The peppers will become cloudy and start to develop a pleasant sour smell. Lactobacillus species are most abundant during this time period.

    14 - 28 days: Lactobacillus make up majority or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid, and make the ferment smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes preserved. This is when you want to smell and taste test.

    30 days: Wait for the peppers to smell and taste as you like, and refrigerate when you find the smell and taste most pleasant! We like ours best when we refrigerate at about 30-35 days. The longer peppers ferment, the more the flavors develop. You can even ferment peppers for years to develop flavor, but the populaiton of probiotics may decrease over time.

Peace, Love and Probiotics,

Kaitlynn Fenley