Fermented hot peppers are simple to make. This is a great recipe to naturally preserve fresh hot peppers harvested in the fall. Use fermented hot peppers as a side dish or cooking ingredient year-round as you would with fresh hot peppers.
Fermented vegetables not only are ideal for long term storage, they are flavourful and a great source of probiotics. These fermented hot peppers are suitable for vegan, keto, paleo and gluten-free diets. Eat a variety of other fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, to support better gut health.
What Kinds of Hot Peppers Should I Use?
Any kind! I used whatever that was in season and available at my local farmer’s market. As you can see in the photos, they include tabasco peppers, green Corno Di Capra peppers (a mild Italian hot pepper), red bird’s eye chilies, and green cayenne peppers. You can use any and all of the hot peppers you have on hands.
Preparing the Hot Peppers
The only thing I do to prepare the hot peppers before fermentation is to wash them. For the purpose of long term storage, I chose not to trim off the stems or cut the peppers. This keeps the peppers perfectly enclosed under their skins. During the fermentation process, the bacteria pre-digest the vegetables and turn them every soft. Cutting the peppers will expose the flesh in the brine, which turns the flesh mushy after a period of fermentation. The skins are tough, thus the uncut and untrimmed peppers will remain reasonably firm for a very long time. I generally ferment uncut hot peppers for 2 to 4 weeks, and then move them to cold storage to keep for months to a year.
Don’t get me wrong, the fermented soft flesh of the hot peppers are extremely delicious. I like to squeeze them out and mix in my foods as a condiment. It really depends on your goal of fermenting hot peppers. If you are aiming to eat them as soon as possible and not storing them for months during the off-season, by all means, cut them. They will ferment faster and be ready to eat or cook with within 1 to 2 weeks.
Tools You Will Need
As most people don’t have a traditional fermentation crock (use it if you do), use any glass jar with a lid. In the photo above, 1 pound hot peppers fit nicely into a 2-quart (half gallon) mason jar.
The hot peppers naturally float, especially if they are untrimmed and hollow inside. You will also need some kind of weight to keep the hot peppers submerged under the brine. Here are some options for you to choose the most suitable in your situation.
- store-bought glass fermentation weights
- fill a ziplock bag with salt brine made with the same salt-water ratio listed in the recipe
- fill a plastic bag with marbles as shown in photo above (this is my favourite method, as it fits any size fermentation vessel)
- use a smaller glass jar that fits inside the opening of the large fermentation jar
How to Use Fermented Hot Peppers
Serve the fermented hot peppers as a side dish, or use them in cooking to add flavours. Don’t throw away the brine either. After fermenting the hot peppers, the brine is a combination of salty, spicy and sour. I recommend using the brine for pickling other vegetables, adding in soups and marinating meats.
Related: More Tasty Lacto-Fermented Recipes You Will Love
- Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut /w Caraway Seeds
- Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Probiotic Sauerkraut
- Paleo Apple-Fermented Kimchi
- Keto Kimchi (Whole 30, GAPS, Paleo)
- Fermented Pickles /w Green Tea and Dill Flowers
- Wild Fermented Salsa (No Whey, Probiotic, Vegan)
- Fermented Cherry Tomatoes
- Sichuan Fermented Vegetables (四川泡菜）
Fermented Hot Peppers
- 1 pound whole fresh hot peppers of your choice washed and untrimmed
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 4 cups filtered water or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons sea salt or more as needed
- Add the garlic and whole hot peppers into a glass jar.
- Mix the salt and water together in a pitcher, stir to dissolve the salt.
- Pour the salt brine into the glass jar to cover the hot peppers. If not enough brine, make a little more using the same salt-water ratio, then add to the jar.
- Place a weight on top of the hot peppers to keep them submerged in the brine. Cover the jar with a lid.
- Leave the glass jar in a dark cool spot to ferment for 2 to 4 weeks. Once fermentation starts, the process will produce carbon dioxide. Check the jar daily to release the gas (burping the jar).
- The hot peppers will soften and become more sour, the longer they ferment. When they reach the desired flavour and texture, transfer the fermented hot peppers into cold storage.