Fermenting Chillies for chilli sauce & fermented chilli paste

Chilli fermentation is a firm favourite of ours, we use it in our very own Northern Cure N'duja to give it its distinctive fiery kick. Fermented chilli is also great when creating fermented chilli sauce.

The flavour profile depends on the type of chilli and fermentation process you use. There's a lot of different fermentation techniques out there, but we've put together a fermentation process that you can try at home.

We use organic chillies sourced from Organic North, these are high quality and untreated by chemicals ensuring a better fermentation.

Fermented Chilli Recipe

The best fermentation for red chillies occurs between 18-22c, the chillies will need a longer time to ferment with lactobacillus the chief organism at work.

Fermentation can be also be done from dried chilies, you will need to rehydrate the dried chilies, then mince them.

Ascorbic Acid or (Vitamin C to you and me) can be added to stop help counter mould growth, add 0.07g per kg of chilis.

Chilli peppers are naturally low in sugar so some sugar needs to be added, this sugar can also be added through the use of carrot or garlic in your mash.

We use a higher 6% salt percentage as well as 2% sugar (to the weight of the chilis). We then ferment at 20c till we get an acidity of below 4.6pH, we then age for around eight weeks.

Chilli fermentation will be most active between weeks 1 and 2.

Chilli Fermentation Guide

  1. Pass the chilies through the grinder
  2. Mix in the salt and sugar (6% and 2%) – allow to stand and a brine to form
  3. Press into the fermentation vessel. You may not see a lot of brine above the chilies, but once pressed they should release more.
  4. Weight the mixture down, with fermentation weights, and jars
  5. Ferment at 18—22c with an airlock for 1-2 weeks, 4.6pH. Look for air pockets, floating pulp, etc. that may need shaking out.
  6. Discard any scum, then use the salt blanket method to age for a further 6 weeks.

We ferment our mash in a large vessel, keeping the mash under the brine with a ceramic weight, followed by a jar of water to weigh it down, we then allow the mash to ferment for two weeks.

We then carefully remove any scum that has formed on the top of the mash, then place a piece of muslin cloth over the top of the brine.

Next, we pour two pinches of sea salt over the entire top of the ferment (behind the muslin cloth), letting the excess come over the edges.

The mash is then allowed to age to a pH of 4.6, we then remove the cloth, and the top layer of mash (which will be slightly saltier).

Fermented Chilli Mash
Fermenting chilli mash

Large scale fermentation

When you are scaling up a product, the brine percentage becomes more sensitive. The bigger scale will mean you have to increase the number of variables you control which will in turn increase the consistency of the product.

Red chilies are traditionally fermented by crushing the chilies and adding 5 – 8% salt. The mixture is then put into barrels, for example, Tabasco is aged in old Jack Daniels barrels. The barrels' are covered with a salted blanket and the lid has tiny holes to allow C02 to escape.

During the aging process, the fermentation mash continues to develop complexity, and some of the liquid is lost into the barrels concentrating the flavour.

Northern Cure Blog

Our blog is the best place to keep up to date on what we're up to, from curing, preserving, and fermentation projects. If you have any questions with regards to your projects, feel free to get in touch and we can try and help.