Fermented Hot Sauce with a Difference!
Recipe type: Hot Sauce
Today’s episode is very exciting. We’re going to make a Tabasco style hot sauce with a difference. The idea for this came from a small Portuguese restaurant down the road from me. They produce a famous hot sauce with a secret ingredient that just rounds off the flavour beautifully. Anyway, not long ago the old lady that owned the restaurant and produced the sauce retired, and decided it was OK to share the secret ingredient with me. I was quite surprised at how simple it was…. Alcohol.
- 1200g Tabasco peppers
- 1200g White sugar
- 6lt Water
- 6g Distiller's yeast
- 6g Yeast activator
- 6g Yeast nutrient
- 6g Diammonium phosphate
- 130g Himalayan rock salt
- 100g White sugar
- 1200ml White vinegar
- 2.5ml Xanthum gum
- 60ml Bottles for bottling
- This recipe will make just under 8 litres of Tabasco-style sauce.
- Trim the stalks from a load of Tabasco chillis, and measure out 1200g of the chillis. You can also use birds-eye, serrano, or any other hot chilli peppers. It is important to weigh the peppers after trimming the stalks, otherwise your quantities will be incorrect.
- Transfer the peppers to your food processor along with 1 litre of water and process these until quite fine. If your processor is on the smaller side, this may have to be done in batches.
- Transfer the machined peppers to a large non-reactive pot and add 1200g of white sugar and another 5 litres of water.
- Place the pot over medium heat and heat the mixture up to 70c or 158f. This will pasteurize the mixture and dissolve the sugar.
- Remove the pot from the heat, put the lid on and allow this to cool to 35c or 95f before continuing.
- As the mixture starts getting closer to 35c, start to prepare your fermentation ingredients. These include 6g of distiller’s yeast, 6g of yeast nutrient, 6g of yeast activator and 6g of diammonium phosphate.
- Measure out 200ml of warm water at 35c or 95f. Add the yeast and the yeast activator. Stir this briefly and put it aside for 15 minutes.
- Pour the chilli mixture from the pot into a large fermentation vessel. This can be anything from a large food-grade bucket to a purpose-built fermenter. You will notice how I have poured everything but the very last bit of mixture into the pot. All the pepper seeds sink to the bottom of the mixture during the pasteurization process, and these will be left in the pot.
- Add the yeast nutrient and diammonium phosphate to the fermentation vessel and stir these in.
- Pour in the activated yeast solution and stir this in.
- Place the lid on your fermentation vessel. If you are using a food grade bucket for the fermentation, make sure your fermentation bubbler is in place and filled.
- After 24 hours, all the solids will have risen to the top of the liquid. The yeast is giving off massive amounts of CO2 and this latches on to the solids and makes them float to the top. CO2 also collects below this carpet of solids causing fascinating bulges in the carpet of solids. Use a sterilized spoon to stir the solids back into the liquid. This will release most of the trapped CO2 and prevent this carpet from causing any fungal growth along the top of the vessel.
- This process will be repeated every day for 6-7 days until the fermentation slows down, and most of the solids remain at the bottom of the fermentation vessel.
- It can take anything from 10-14 days for the fermentation to be totally complete. The complete fermentation can be noted by the complete absence of bubbling or foaming, and on tasting the liquid, there is no sugar remaining in the liquid. This means that the yeast has completely consumed all the sugar in the solution, and fermentation has finished. There will also be a very noticeable alcoholic aroma to the liquid along with the strong pepper aroma.
- Pour the fermented solution through a fine sieve into a large non-reactive pot. Once again, I am leaving the last little bit in the vessel. This is mostly comprised of seeds that we missed on the first pouring, yeast cells and a little of the solids.
- Use a silicon spatula to stir the solid pulp around in the sieve. This allows the remaining liquid to escape through the sieve. It also helps to scrape the outside of the sieve down as well. Once the pulp has reached half of its original quantity, transfer the pulp to a tall jug.
- Use you stick blender to machine this to a very fine paste. You may have to do this in batches.
- Rinse the sieve, then return the paste to the sieve. Use a clean spatula to stir this around, once again forcing the fine particles and liquid to escape into the pot. Once this pulp has reduced to half, return the unfiltered pulp to the tall jug and process it again using your stick blender.
- Pour the reprocessed pulp into the pot and stir it into the pepper liquid.
- Add 130g of Himalayan rock salt. This is 2% of the total volume of the liquid at this stage of the process.
- Add 100g of sugar and stir this in. We are not trying to sweeten the liquid. 100g of sugar will barely be discernible in this quantity of liquid. It is added to temper and smooth the burn of the peppers.
- This is followed by 1.2 litres of white vinegar.
- Place the pot over medium heat and once again heat the liquid to a temperature of 70c or 158f. This time round the pasteurization is purely to kill any remaining yeast in the sauce. If you skip this step and proceed straight to the next step, your bottled product may burst once sealed, due to renewed fermentation.
- Transfer 550ml of the sauce to a tall jug. Add 2.5ml or a half teaspoon of Xanthan gum to the jug. Use your stick blender to beat this into the sauce. The sauce will thicken to a syrupy consistency that will coat the back of a spoon.
- The Xanthan gum effectively suspends all the microscopic solid particles in the liquid, ensuring that you will have no precipitation of solids in the sauce. Notice how the sauce has lightened in colour. This is an optical illusion caused by billions of microscopic bubbles in the sauce introduced during the blending process. After a few hours the bubbles will rise to the top of the liquid and the colour will return to its original deep red hue.
- Continue with the remaining sauce until all of it has been stabilized and thickened, then proceed to bottling and you are done.
- ) If your fermentation stops and there is still sugar present in the sauce, add another 6g of yeast to restart the fermentation.
- ) If mould starts to grow on the carpet of chilli solids, you probably skipped the pasteurization process, or your equipment was not sterile. Skim the mould off the top and continue as normal.
- )If fermentation fails persistently, you have not used all of the fermentation ingredients. You cannot successfully ferment the sauce without the yeast activator, nutrient and diammonium phosphate. The high sugar and acid levels in the sauce will kill the yeast without these additives.