How Many Ways Can You Make Fermented Hot Sauce?

Answer: Way more ways than I could ever attempt! I stuck with four, and am eager to see how they turn out. I think a taste-off is in order!

1. Fermented Sriracha — I started out following a recipe from Viet World Kitchen, though I soon strayed a bit, since I didn’t feel like adding sugar, boiling off the microbiology I had welcomed to the ferment, or straining the solids. One quart whole cayenne peppers, stems trimmed off, processed with 3 cloves garlic and 1 1/4 tsp. salt, placed in a pint jar with lid lightly screwed on, then set aside for 3-4 days, or to taste (I ended up leaving it 8 days, as we move into the crisp days of fall ) checking every day to stir and skim off any mold. (I didn’t have any issues with mold, however.) Then blended with about 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water until smooth. Very sharply spicy, with heat that hits you right away at the front of the mouth. I never realized how bitter cayenne peppers were. I would also have liked a more pronounced garlic flavor, I think. Next time, I would probably either remove the seeds beforehand or add some sweet red peppers to the mix to counterbalance the bitter burning heat, and add a couple more cloves of garlic. I ended up blending a teaspoon of raw sugar into the sauce to add a touch of sweetness.

2. Fermented Chili Paste — Similar to the sriracha above, but the use of yogurt to bolster the ferment intrigued me. Thanks to Terroir Seeds for the idea and clear instructions!
Processed 2 quarts of cayenne, tops and seeds removed with 2 cloves garlic, and 2″ piece of garlic, cut into slices. Pulsed in 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, then 1/4 cup yogurt. Placed in quart jar with lid loosely closed, and leave 4-5 days, or to taste (7 days seemed about right to me), stirring and checking every day. Skim off or stir in any white mold that forms. (Again, I had no issues with mold). Refrigerate and enjoy! I found the spice level much more to my liking without the seeds, but the bitterness was still a bit unpleasant to me.

3. Sambal — Processed 15 red jalapeños (the amount I happened to have) with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 clove of garlic, then placed in a half-pint jar with lid loosely screwed on. Let ferment 2 days, then blended with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup lime juice. Returned to jar with lid and let ferment about 3 more days before moving to the fridge. Wonderful! Thanks for the Culture Cheat Sheet for this fantastic recipe!

4. Brined jalapeño sauce — Doesn’t get much simpler than this! Well Preserved proved to be a great guide! I used about 20 jalapeños, halved and seeds removed, stuffed into a quart jar, then covered in brine, with a bag of brine on top to keep the level of liquid above the peppers. Place jar in a larger pan to catch any overflow and let ferment for 6 days, or to your liking. You can tuck them into the fridge at this point, until you can find the time to continue, though it really is only a matter of minutes to blend with about 1/2 cup each (in my case, a third of the volume is a good guide) of the brine and apple cider vinegar. Pour into a pint jar and enjoy!

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Posted in Fermentation, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Sauces, Condiments, and Dips, Vegan | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fermented Salsa

Well, it’s that time of the season when we suddenly have tomatoes coming out of our ears, and are constantly scheming ways to make our way through the growing pile of split and blemished tomatoes. So far we’ve made various tomato salads and platters (along with the classic caprese salad, I love mint and tomato together), cooked them into curries, simmered them with herbs and veggies to top pasta, baked them into quiche and fritatta, sliced them onto burgers and our morning eggs, and blended them into soup. They keep coming. For every two or three that we find a use for, at least that many more arrive at the doorstep. Since we don’t have a dehydrator, I think I will soon resort to freezing them to cook with or turn into sauce later in the season, when late blight finishes off the plants and we find ourselves hankering for tomato again. But first, I wanted to whip up a batch of fermented salsa.

We made a fermented tomato-peach salsa by the bucketful back at Chrysalis Earth last summer, and it was by far the most amazing salsa I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately, the recipe they had never quite worked as written, requiring a few adjustments of the proportions before it fermented properly, and was at a completely different scale than I was looking for. Thankfully, I was able to find great guidance online from Zero Waste Chef.

I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, as usual. I only had one stray jalapeño and garlic clove, only one quart jar free, all our cilantro is about one inch tall at the moment, and I didn’t have a lemon or a scale to measure out the tomatoes. Nonetheless, I appreciated the insight into the process and a rough sense of proportions, and to have discovered what looks to be a great resource not only for whole-foods cooking, but also sustainable living. Will have to peruse it more soon, with a bowl of chips and salsa in hand!

UPDATE (8/31/17): Made a second batch… this time I was able to scrounge up four jalapeños and a bolted cilantro plant. (The rest are still no taller than they have been for months, we finally realized a rabbit keeps munching on them!) I also left out the onion initially, so that I could add it already cooked once the fermentation period is over — I noticed with the last batch that while the fermentation helped make the onion more digestible, especially the longer it sat in the fridge, it still did bother my digestion some. I used about 6 medium tomatoes, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Yielded a full quart plus almost a pint. Pint was already a bit over-fermented for my taste after about 36 hours, despite the cool weather — I imagine the greater surface area and air space, since the smaller jar wasn’t filled to the brim, made it ferment more quickly and get away from me. It was still great cooked into eggs and beans and greens. And the quart was at the perfect stage! Yum!

Fermented Salsa
(Makes a little over a quart)
3 large tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds and veins removed,finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 large sprigs of oregano, leaves removed and finely minced
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked chili powder

Mix together in a bowl, then pour into a jar or another non-reactive container (glass, ceramic, or plastic) with a lid, leaving only a slight airspace at the top. Place in a tray or baking pan to catch any overflowing liquid and let sit out of direct sunlight for stirring and tasting it once or twice a day, until it reaches the flavor you like — usually this is within 2-4 days, though you can allow it to ferment for up to a week. Move it to the fridge and enjoy!

Posted in Fermentation, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Sauces, Condiments, and Dips, Vegan | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sourdough Pancakes

I’ve been in a bit of a sourdough “rut” lately… haven’t had much time or motivation to dedicate to making bread (especially since I’ve found the gluten free sourdough loaves I’ve attempted disappointing so far.) For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeding my starter every day or two, then, when the jar gets full, whipping together a batch of sourdough pancakes. It’s the quickest, easiest way to enjoy the tang of sourdough while giving your starter a “fresh start.”

Honestly, as ruts go, this is a pretty darn delicious one. I’d even go so far to say that it’s worth keeping a jar of starter around, even if you don’t have the time or interest in sourdough baking, just to make these pancakes. Not sure how they have eluded this blog for so long.

I’m afraid I can’t offer much of a recipe, since I never measure anything when I make these. It’s funny to look back and remember how, when my father finally entrusted me with the recipe for his famous pancakes, he provided two full pages of instructions about how to tell when the pan was at the perfect temperature, how to test if the batter was at just the right consistency, and so on. Needless to say, I approached the fine art of pancake making with reverence, care, and a bit of trepidation. How far I’ve come, to where now I just scrape starter into a bowl (unless I am planning on baking soon, I generally leave just a couple spoonfuls at the bottom of the jar and use the rest), then add whatever flour(s) I fancy, enough liquid (usually yogurt thinned with water, stock or cooking liquid, or straight up water) to bring it to “batter” consistency, salt and whatever other spices or herbs or mix-ins I feel like. I usually add an egg as well to help it hold together. They never turn out quite the same twice, but somehow so far they have always turned out! Sourdough pancakes are incredibly forgiving, and the possibilities are endless!

If you’d like fluffier pancakes or to neutralize the sourdough tang, try adding a teaspoon or so of baking powder.

Here are some of my favorite variations so far:

Oatmeal: Mix in leftover oatmeal with starter and a little liquid, breaking up clumps with a fork as much as possible. Then add additional flour and liquid to bring it to the volume and consistency you want. Stir some cinnamon and cardamon into the batter, or whatever spices and mix-ins you like in your oatmeal, and top with tahini, jam, or yogurt.

Parsnip: Cook 1-2 parsnips until very tender (I recommend braising or roasting), then puree and mix with starter and additional flour, along with enough liquid to create a thin batter, as the parsnips will make it tend toward the thick, dense side of things. It’s worth a little extra trouble to enjoy the distinctive sweet and spunky flavor of this incredible root veggie. I’d also recommend at least one egg to help hold the batter together, and spices like cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves.

Turmeric, Black Pepper, and Garlic: Sourdough pancakes aren’t just for breakfast! They are the perfect “flat bread” for scooping up curries and stews, or dipping into soups. I particularly love the combination of turmeric, black pepper, and garlic to accompany mung bean deals. Cornmeal and tulsi basil are great additions.

Onion & Fennel: Possibly my favorite yet! Chopped onion, with minced fennel leaves (caraway or dill are also great) is amazing topped with yogurt as a side to soup or for a savory breakfast.

Other sweet and savory mix-and-match combos: Paprika or chili powder, anise seeds, ginger, cilantro, oregano, sage, grated summer squash… raid your spice cabinet, scope out your garden or the farmer’s market, and get creative!

Posted in Breads and Baked Goods, Breakfast, Fermentation, Garden Originals, Gluten Free, Out of the Frypan, Quick and easy, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment