Hot sauce is one of the easiest fermented foods you can make at home: simply blend up some peppers, add salt and vinegar, and let it ferment at room temperature for a few days. After that point, you can strain the liquid out for a Tabasco-sauce-like hot sauce, or leave the chunks of pepper inside for a thicker hot sauce. There are much more complicated recipes online, but I like this one because it adds heat to any dish without overpowering the flavors of the other ingredients.
It is best made in the summer, when fresh peppers are abundant and most flavorful. Buy them in bulk at the farmer's market and then use them to make hot sauce that will last you for the rest of the year! Hot sauce can be customized in the same way that pickles are: you can add some garlic, spices, or use a blend of different kinds of peppers to adjust the flavor. For a milder sauce, use milder peppers!
***Note about working with chili peppers: the compound capsaicin which makes peppers hot can be extremely irritating and even painful when it comes in contact with human skin or membranes. When working with raw chilis, you might want to use latex gloves to avoid getting any of the juices on your skin, and potentially even a wet bandana around your nose and mouth to avoid breathing in the particles that are released in the air. Be especially careful not to touch your eyes, and wash your utensils and cutting board in hot soapy water immediately after use.
Yields about 3 cups hot sauce
1 pound chili peppers (~450 grams)
1 tablespoon salt (~17 grams)
1 1/2 cups vinegar (distilled white, red wine, apple cider) (352 mL)
- Wash chilis, then remove stems and seeds carefully*** (see note in introduction).
- Puree chilis and salt in food processor or blender until extremely finely chopped (avoid inhaling the fumes directly).
- Transfer chili/salt mixture into 1 quart sized glass jar and loosely cover with a towel. Allow to sit for 12 hours to ferment at room temperature.
- After 12 hours, add vinegar to jar and stir. Loosely cover with lid and allow to continue to sit at room temperature for up to 1 week; you can taste and smell the flavor change slightly each day.
- When you are satisfied with how it tastes, you can either place it directly in the refrigerator (with lid on), or strain it first through a fine cloth.
- It will last for up to about 6 months in the refrigerator. You may also freeze some if you make it in large quantities that you will not finish within 6 months. Shake the sauce before each use as it may separate in the refrigerator. This recipe is not intended for storing in the pantry.
Recipe adapted from here.