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20 September 2017

Learn how to make fermented pepper mash at home so you can make your own homemade hot sauces and help preserve your abundant chili pepper harvest. Fermenting chili peppers is a fun, great way to preserve them, and essential for making hot sauces.

There are many ways to make hot sauce, and as you can tell by our Hot Sauce Recipes section of the web site, I’ve made a lot of them. However, one way we have yet to explore is making them with fermented chili peppers.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Tabasco sauce, you’ve tasted fermented chili peppers. Tabasco starts with tabasco peppers which they crush, mix with salt, and ferment in oak barrels for up to 3 years. The original Tabasco sauce only uses 3 ingredients – tabasco peppers, salt, and distilled vinegar.

A number of hot sauce makers use fermented peppers in the form of pepper mash to make their products, and a good pepper mash makes a difference in the resulting flavors. If you’re interested in making sauces from pepper mash, good news. It’s easy to make at home and you don’t need to wait 3 years for it to be ready.

But first…

How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash

What is Fermented Pepper Mash?

Pepper mash is a collection of chili peppers that have been mashed together with salt then aged until they break down chemically. Fermentation is one our oldest methods of food preservation. Humans have preserved many foods this way, from cheeses to wine to a slew of other vegetables.

Fermentation, basically, is the decomposition of foods by micro-organisms (Lactic Acid Bacteria) or enzymes. We create an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment for the peppers so the natural Lactic Acid Bacteria can thrive, and other undesirable bacteria cannot.

Bad bacteria, such as rotting molds, cannot survive in an anaerobic environment, which we create with salt and brine, therefore protecting the peppers while the good bacteria do their work. The salt is not actually the preservative. It is the acid produced by the fermentation process that does the preserving.

Lactic acid bacteria consumes carbohydrates in the peppers and converts them to acid. After fermenting, the carbohydrates have been predigested, leaving them with more vitamins and flavor than fresh peppers.

It is akin to a controlled decay process, and there are numerous benefits to fermentation, including more digestible foods and more desirable flavors. With peppers, you’ll notice a mellowing of flavors, changes in color, and in the pleasant smell of the resulting mash.

How Safe is Fermenting Peppers?

Fermenting peppers is very safe! Before I began my exploration into fermentation, I succumbed to the common misconception that fermenting could easily lead to rotten or even dangerous foods, but in truth, fermentation is very simple and hard to mess up.

The key is to ferment properly. You’ll know if you’ve made a mistake by the smell of a ferment. It will smell “off” or “rotten”.

The fact is, we’re fermenting in a controlled environment, so just be sure to follow the proper procedures.

Making Basic Pepper Mash

How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash

You can make fermented pepper mash from any type of chili pepper, even dried peppers. Your only consideration is the thickness of the pepper walls. Thicker walled peppers may need to be strained after the fermentation period, to remove the coarser skin, so you don’t need to seed them if you don’t want to.

Thinner walled peppers won’t need straining, so you may want to seed them first if you prefer a smoother result when you process the mash later on.

To make pepper mash, first process your fresh peppers in a food processor. If you don’t have a processor, use a mortar and pestle or simply finely chop them.

Next, mix in salt. You should use 1 teaspoon salt (5.69 g) per pound (.45 kg) of peppers. 1 pound of peppers should process down to about 1 cup (220 g, or 7.75 ounces) of mash. So, use 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of mash, which is roughly 2.3% salt by weight.

The peppers will begin to release their moisture right away. A note about salt: most salts are fine to use, but avoid using salts with additives, such as table salt.

Place your mash into a jar and press it down to remove any air pockets. Leave at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) of headspace. The peppers may rise a bit when fermenting. The brine will rise up and cover the peppers. It is important to keep the peppers covered with brine to avoid spoilage. Check this daily.

Screw on the lid and set the jar away from direct sunlight to ferment for at least 1 week. Ideal temperatures are between 55-75 degrees F (12.78-23.89 C). The most active fermentation period is between 1-2 weeks, so be sure to monitor it during this time. “Burp” the jars often by unscrewing the lid a bit to let out some of the accumulating gases. Or, use an airlock or membrane for easier fermenting. See below for what I like to use.

After 1-2 weeks, the fermenting activity will diminish. Move it to a pantry where you can let it ferment longer if you’d like, or use it right away.You can ferment for months or even longer to allow the flavors to more fully develop.

Once it is ready, store it in the refrigerator where it will last for a year or longer.

Making Brine Pepper Mash

How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash

An alternate method to the basic pepper mash is using a brine, which is a salt water solution. The primary difference is that we’re adding water rather than using the natural juices from the peppers. This method ensures the peppers stay beneath the brine, and is more ideal for thinner walled peppers.

To make a brine pepper mash, first process your fresh peppers in a food processor. If you don’t have a processor, use a mortar and pestle or simply finely chop them. Pack them into a jar, leaving at least 1 inch of head space. The peppers may rise a bit when fermenting.

Next, mix 1 quart (.95 liter) unchlorinated water with 3 tablespoons (54 g) sea salt. Pour just enough brine over the peppers to cover them, pressing them down a bit as you go. It is important to keep the peppers covered with brine to avoid spoilage. Check this daily.

Screw on the lid and set the jar away from direct sunlight to ferment for at least 1 week. Ideal temperatures are between 55-75 degrees F (12.78-23.89 C). The most active fermentation period is between 1-2 weeks, so be sure to monitor it during this time. “Burp” the jars often by unscrewing the lid a bit to let out some of the accumulating gases. Or, use an airlock or membrane for easier fermenting. See below for what I like to use.

After 1-2 weeks, the fermenting activity will diminish and the brine will turn cloudy and taste acidic. Move it to a pantry where you can let it ferment longer if you’d like, or use it right away. You can ferment for months or even longer to allow the flavors to more fully develop.

Once it is ready, process it with a food processor. You can use it right away to make hot sauce or store it in the refrigerator where it will last for a year or longer.

I personally like to add a bit of vinegar at this stage before storage.

Equipment for Making Pepper Mash and Fermenting Peppers and Other Vegetables

Aside from jars and your ingredients, I like to use Masontops lids, which include pickling weights and a membrane allowing gases to escape without the need for burping. You can use them with any wide mouth mason jar. Here is a link to where you can buy them on Amazon. It’s an affiliate link, my friends. FYI!

Buy Masontop Lids for Fermenting Chili Peppers (and More)

I also highly recommend this outstanding book by fermenting experts, Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey – “Fiery Ferments: 70 Stimulating Recipes for Hot Sauces, Spicy Chutneys, Kimchis with Kick and Other Blazing Fermented Condiments”. I learned a lot from this book as well as through my own experimentation. Grab a copy today.

Good luck, and happy fermenting! Let me know what you make with your pepper mash.

How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash

Frequently Asked Questions about Fermenting Peppers and Making Pepper Mash

Why Does My Pepper Mash Taste Bitter?

I sometimes get some bitterness with my fermented pepper batches. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on it, whether it is from kahm yeast or from the starting peppers themselves, where the slight bitterness is amplified in the fermentation process. The best way to counter it is through the addition of other ingredients.

Also, some people report a bitterness from the pepper seeds, so try removing the seeds before fermentation and see if that affects your resulting flavor.

To counterbalance the bitterness, try adding an acid like vinegar or lime juice, which can help balance it out, then a sweetener like sugar or honey. Certain roasted vegetables can help, too, like carrots or other flavors. Garlic is good. They can all help balance out the bitterness. Give the final sauce time to rest and let the flavors meld in the refrigerator.

What is Kahm Yeast?

Kahm yeast is a whitish film that can sometimes appear on top of your ferment. It can form when all of the sugar in your ferment is consumed. The PH drops because of lactic acid buildup, allowing kahm yeast to form. It is not a mold, and can be scraped away from your ferment.

Sweeter vegetables, particular peppers, are more prone to kahm yeast.

How do I tell if peppers are fermenting?

You will often see bubbling activity in the jar as the fermentation process takes place, but not always. Sometimes you may have what is called a “quiet ferment”, where it seems little activity it taking place. Fermenting peppers give off a slightly sour, pleasent smell, so trust your nose to know fermentation is taking place. 

How Do You Know if the Fermentation is Bad?

You can usually tell if a fermentation is bad by sight or smell. If you see signs of fuzzy or pinkish colored mold, the ferment is infected. If the peppers are very mushy, something has gone wrong. 

If the ferment smells rotten or disgusting to you, it has gone bad. Trust your nose to know if something is bad. A good ferment will have a slightly sour smell, but will smell pleasant.

Hot Sauce Recipes with Fermented Peppers

Here are some of my own recipes that use fermented chili peppers.

Check out more Hot Sauce Recipes or learn more about How to Make Hot Sauce.

The best ph meters that I recommend are from Thermoworks. Get yourself a ph meter from Thermoworks today. I am a happy affiliate.

Got any questions? Please contact me anytime and I will do my best to help. Good luck with your pepper fermentation!

How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash


  1. Christian Tegneby

    Hey Mike

    In regards to the brine method, you write :

    “After 1-2 weeks, the fermenting activity will diminish and the brine will turn cloudy and taste acidic”

    So im confused here, is that taste a bad thing ? and should i blend the mash with the brine or throw it away ?


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      No, it is not a bad thing, Christian. You can blend the brine with the mash, though it may be very salty. You can strain it and keep the brine, however, and use it in other ways, such as doing another ferment batch, using as a salad dressing and more.

  2. Hi! Silly question- when you say “burp often” during the 1-2 weeks, how often exactly do you mean? Once daily, more, less? I don’t want to over/under do it. (I’ll eventually purchase the handy kit)

    Thank you!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Cassie, you should probably release gases 2-3 times per day for the first few days, though you can slow down after that. Be sure to keep an eye on activity, as pressure can build up. The kits are great, as you don’t risk infection by needing to open the jar.

  3. Hi Mike,
    Just started my first ferment yesterday. I am using green jalapenos because they were the only hot peppers I had on hand, along with a couple cloves of garlic. Any experience fermenting these? I’m worried the jalapenos will turn out bitter as they aren’t a very sweet pepper to begin with.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mike, yes, I have fermented jalapenos. They get more mellow as they ferment, not bitter, though you sometimes get a bit of bitterness in any ferment. You can adjust for that later with a touch of honey, if desired. Or discard the brine after the ferment and just use the fermented peppers if it is too bitter for your tastes.

  4. I was just wondering if i can blend peaches or blueberries and garlic in after the peppers were fermented? Would it have to be simmered or cooked to stop the sugars from refermenting in the bottle?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mike, you surely can, but yes, the batch should be heated through to stop fermenting. You can put it in the fridge without cooking to slow the ferment, though you will most likely need to burp the jars to release gas pressure. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  5. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the detailed process! I have a big bag of birds eye chili peppers that I keep in the freezer. Would you advise against using these to make a fermented pepper mash?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Quanh. You can certainly use those peppers. No problem at all. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  6. Just starting out for the first time, have looked at different methods of fermenting. the question i have is that when i blended my peppers they created more of a pulp is this ok.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chris, yes, the pulp is fine. You can also remove the innards and roughly chop the peppers if you’d like so it doesn’t float as much. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. My mash with just salt has some white bits on the top now, is this ok

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Chris, if is smooth, it is probably kahm yeast, which is harmless and can be scraped off. If it is fuzzy and smells bad, it is likely mold, which means your batch is infected.

  7. Kyle jones

    Hey Mike,
    New to the chili fermenting game and I’m on my second batch with straight chili and salt. First batch I did added water and went 24 hrs on Irish ferment before adding distilled white vinegar and fermenting for an additional 6 days. This time I wanted to try the natural sour flavor without adding vinegar but the top of my chili mash wasn’t covered with the brine for the 5 days it’s been fermenting so far. The top was a little pale compared to the lower 99% but No mold, and veg is still crunchy not slimy. Is it fine if the top wasn’t covered?
    Btw I’m using a 2.5% kosher salt content.
    1530 grams of mash to 38.25 grams salt.
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Kyle. I would go by smell here. If the peppers were not completely below the brine, they could have been exposed to bad bacteria. If it smells rotten or bad, you can remove that part. You might scoop that top off anyway. You can also taste the brine a bit. If you detect any “bad” or rotten flavors, time to go. Otherwise, you’re most likely fine. Enjoy.

  8. Hi Michael,

    Thanks a ton for all the work you put into this website, it is very informative. I’m just getting started and have a question regarding my first two experiences trying to ferment Serrano peppers (half a pound of peppers in 16oz of brine mixed per instructions): In both cases the pepper mash rises to the top as I add the brine. I have tried to push the mash down but it always rises back up. As a result, bits of the mash are floating at the surface. Am I doing something wrong?


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Adrian. One way to keep them down is to use a baggie with some water in it. That will press everything down below the mash. You could also try much larger chunks of peppers so they don’t float up around your weights. Let me know if this helps.

  9. Hi Mike,
    I’m interested in fermenting longer. You mentioned that after a week or two, we can put the fermented peppers in the pantry and leave for several months. Do they no longer need burping at this point? And what are the chances of mold forming after this period? I’m very new to fermenting, and I would like to stock up my pantry.
    Thank you!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Kat. The fermenting activity dies down so it won’t need as much burping. Just keep an eye on it to make sure. You do get more chances for mold with exposure to the air, so the more you can keep it enclosed, the better. Look into an airlock type system that allows gases to escape without the need for burping. I have some links in the post above.

  10. phillip wray

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve made several batches of different recipes now- all delicious!
    I’ve fermented the chillies every time and then strained them. Do you ever save the resulting chilli leftovers for anything? I’m thinking that it’s probably a good flavour source going to waste.
    All the best

  11. I am trying this with a glass 2 liter coffee French press. I am wondering if the stainless screen/press will have any effect on taste or fermentation process? thanks..

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Joe, I don’t believe so, though if you’re concerned you can somehow line it with plastic. Not sure. As long as everything stays submerged below the brine, that is most important. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  12. Thank you for the tutorial! I’m looking forward to trying this. One quick question. Is there any reason why this wouldn’t work with peppers that have been roasted? I lost all of my unroasted ones to a freezer malfunction, so roasted is all I have left from this year’s harvest. Thank you for any input you can offer.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dan, you can ferment roasted peppers, though you might need a fermentation starter to get things going if it doesn’t get going by itself.

  13. Wonder Jorge

    Hello Mike,
    It’s me again. Okay, this might sound dim but I do need to know. So, my fermentation has mold on it, does that mean it’s gone bad? It doesn’t smell bad to me. It smells a little sour though. What am I expected to see on it if anything?

    Thank you for your attention.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hello, Jorge. If you see mold on your fermentation, then it is pretty bad. You really don’t want any fuzzy mold or growths on it. If it is a whitish coating, that is likely kahm yeast and harmless, though it can give a sour flavor. But if you see mold, you can scoop it out along with some of the surrounding ferment and continue on. If there a LOT of mold, though, permeating the batch, I would throw it out. Let me know how it goes. Be sure everything is submerged below the brine to avoid spoilage.

  14. Wonder Jorge

    Good evening Mike,
    First let me say your blog is so helpful and easy to follow. Thank you so kindly.

    Okay, my question is this: I’m thinking of more flavour in my fermented peppers. I usually grind dry crayfish into powder to flavour my soups and stews and I was thinking of adding some to my fermented peppers. At what stage would you advise I do this? Before or after fermentation? What do you think about the whole idea, would my mixture keep with the powdered crayfish? (It’s real crayfish from the local fish market and it usually keeps for years if kept cool and dry.).

    Thank you for taking the time.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks so much, Jorge. I appreciate the kind words. I have personally not fermented dried fish or crawfish, but I believe you can ferment it. Fermenting seafood has been done a long time. I think you can add some into your pepper ferment and see how the flavor develops. If you’re not happy with it, you can add it in later with another batch and see if you find that more palatable. I love the idea for an umami boost. I actually like to dehydrate cooked shrimp, then grind it into a powder for the same reasons you do. It is great added to soups and stews. I love it seafood gumbo. It really elevates the flavors. Let me know how it goes for you.

  15. RE: Fermentation
    Hi Mike:
    I just read your peach Scotch bonnet recipe. I’m a bit confused. I have my peppers from Summer fermenting, but your recipe seems to say that the fruit (peaches and tomatoes) should be fermenting with the peppers. Is that correct? I have a hard time envisioning a good flavor from fermented tomatoes. I was planning on using fresh or frozen fruit added to the fermented mash. Did you truly mean to ferment everything together?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jayebe, some people do like to ferment everything together, though you don’t have to. Tomatoes are particularly tough to ferment sometimes because they have a high sugar content and can smell a bit like they’re going bad in the ferment. You can work around this by either skipping the tomatoes in the ferment, or by using dried tomatoes in the ferment. I would suggest just skipping the tomatoes in the ferment if you have a concern.

  16. Danielle S.

    Hi Mike I have a few questions/ need guidance….
    I’m going to ferment large quantities of my peppers for various hot sauces, relishes, etc….. for year round use via salt water brine.
    1: when fermentation is done, I purée Both the Peppers and brine together in a processor. Correct?
    2: How do I convert the measurement for fresh Peppers to fermented mash for a given recipe? Right now all of my recipes call for fresh.
    Say a recipe calls for 8oz of chopped scorpions (not 8oz scorps, chopped) would I measure out 8oz of mash?
    or if it calls for say 4 ghosts, how do I convert that to a correct measurement for mash?
    3: do I omit the salt in a hot sauce recipe since using a mash? And would I still use the same amount of vinegar?
    4: right now all of my pepper crop is frozen. Can I add a few fresh peppers to kick start the ferment?
    Thank you so much in advance for your help!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Danielle. To answer your questions:

      1. You can either process the whole thing in the brine, or strain the peppers out and start with a new vinegar/salt solution and other ingredients. Just use fermented peppers in place of other peppers in any recipe. I often use the brine, but some people have found that a bit salty. It really depends on your preference. Some people like to dump the brine.
      2. Use a 1:1 ratio. You don’t really lose any mass from fermenting, or maybe a small fraction. You can always add a bit more fermented peppers if you have a concern.
      3. Yes, omit the salt as there is enough saltiness in the brine.
      4. Yes, with frozen peppers, you can use fresh pods to kickstart a ferment, or introduce some sort of a fermentation starter.

      I hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  17. Hi! I have a comment about this line here from your Pepper mash article::::: Once it is ready, process it with a food processor. You can use it right away to make hot sauce or store it in the refrigerator where it will last for a year or longer.

    you mentionn after that yo personally like adding a little vinegar at this stage. My question is, in making the Loisiana knock off sauce, isnt vinegar a must? and how much? Cheers. Doing mine with Habaneros and a single ghost pepper. brine style. ill keep the brine, process, add vinegar, yes? if too salty? add more vinegar?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Wes, yes, vinegar is a primary component of Louisiana Style hot sauce. I have a page on that here: The amount can vary from recipe to recipe, anywhere from a few tablespoons to a whole cup, depending on how vinegary you’d like. Yes, on adding more vinegar to help combat the saltiness. Or, you can dump your brine and start over with a new brine/vinegar solution for processing, but some people hate to waste that brine, which is full of flavor.

    2. I brine with a 2tbsp:1Quart solution or 3:1 if it is a coarse salt. I add about 1 cup of brine per quart of mash and very gradually add white vinegar to taste, about 1/4 tsp at a time. I’ve never had an issue with it being too salty with this method. Good luck!

  18. Jason Pollick

    Hi Mike,

    A question about the difference between brine and non-brine mash. If I understand correctly, with the non-brine method, once fermentation is complete, you squeeze out the juice using a strainer and the juice is what you use to make sauces. With the brine method though, you say that once fermenting is done, you process it through a food processor. Could you say more about the difference, and about the pros and cons of each method?

    The reason I ask is that I have 8 different kinds of mashes on the go and they are all pretty much ready to be “processed” one way or the other. As you note in your article, the thicker-walled peppers created enough of their own brine, but the thinner-walled peppers required a bit of additional brine.

    Either way, I am afraid that if I just process everything up and start making sauces, the solids will keep fermenting and perhaps pop off my lids (the fermentation process in a couple of jars is still quite active, although the ph has dropped below 4%). But that being said, when I taste the brine vs. the mash, I much prefer the flavour (and heat!) of the mash. I would be afraid of losing a lot of flavour and heat if I just squish out the brine using a strainer (although perhaps a significant quantity of mash comes through the strainer?).

    I guess what I am asking is: is it safe to liquefy everything in a blender, put it back in a sealed jar in the fridge, and use that as an additive for sauces?

    And once last question, you note that you add vinegar at the end of fermentation. Roughly how much?

    Thanks for a great post!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Jason. You are correct, though when you are done fermenting with either method, you can also just toss out the brine then process the fermented peppers with a new brine that isn’t quite so salty if you’d like. Or you can process with the original brine. I like the brine method as it is a bit more fool proof, IMO. Both work great, though. Yes, your peppers very likely may continue to ferment once you process them. You can either cook them down to stop fermenting, or keep them in the fridge, but they often still keep going in the fridge. It just slows it. Depending on how much finished processed peppers I have, I’ll add anywhere from 2 tablespoons up to 1 cup of vinegar, again depending on the recipe. My final goal is a lower pH, about 3.5 or so, and a focus on flavor. I hope this helps.

  19. Hello Michael!

    I am still new to fermenting peppers and I hoped you might help me.

    Last year I successfully made great Sriracha following your recipe – it was my first batch.

    I set up 5 liters of mash to ferment last week, hoping to repeat the success. But after 3-4 days of nice tingling smell and bubbles of fermentation, today the acidic tingling is gone, the smell is bad, and there there is a fine white film on top.

    The temperature in my place never falls lower than 19-20, so while the fermentation could be slow, it should be fine.

    a) What could be the reason for the mash going bad?
    b) Can I rescue the batch?
    c) How to be safe next time?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Vadim, the bubbling of the fermentation can stop and go quiet. This is fairly normal and would still be fermenting. My biggest concern here is the bad smell. The white film COULD be kahm yeast, which is normal and not bad for the ferment, but it has a sour taste and should be scraped off. You can give it a little taste and see if it also tastes bad. If that is so, I would toss it. Trust your nose and your taste buds, and eyes. If the white film on top is fuzzy in any way, toss it right away. It is likely MOLD.

      It sounds to me like one of two things may have happened. ONE: the seal isn’t tight or is has been exposed to air, possibly from burping, or the peppers are not all beneath the brine. Or TWO: The jars weren’t properly sanitized enough before the ferment. Best things moving forward are to be as sanitary as possible, ensure proper brine solution, and keep the peppers below the brine. Let me know how it goes. I hope this helps a little.

      1. Thanks for the detailed reply!

        1) I actually ferment with an air-passable cloth, so no seal at all – I’ve been an amateur vinegar-maker for 4+ years, and my last Sriracha via your recipe was made with an open jar outside in a yard in August (just like I do my vinegars), and the fermentation was fierce. Is a closed jor meant for protection from bacteria, or from air? I thought air helps fermentation (from vinegar experience).

        2) The film is not fuzzy so it might be Kahm indeed. The smell certainly changed from acidic peppery-tingling good one to a new smell, but it’s not actually like 100% foul food. Not sure how to be sure. 🙂

        3) Regarding peppers being submerged, I followed the last year – which is thoroughly mixing the mash 1-2 times a day to ensure it’s submerged.

        I want to give it a chance – is there a way for me to test/check the mash for being good. Maybe a pH tester, or some other way? Since it’s my first attempt of fermenting in the new environment (in a flat, inside, during autumn) I can’t trust my buds yet for sure.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Sure thing. I like to use a plastic membrane with a lip that covers the jar top. It lets gases escape through the lip but lets no air in. If exposed to air, it can be exposed to infection. Your way can work, but you really need to be careful how much it is exposed to air and therefore infection. If you don’t want to taste it, go by smell and be sure there are no signs of rot or fuzzy mold or any other weird, smelly growth. Kahm yeast is common and can be scraped away. Use your best judgment.

          1. Thanks! No rot or fuzzy growth, but the smell is uncommon. 🙂

            Is a rule of thumb to keep fermentation anaerobic, and should I get a waterlock (like in brewing) in this case?

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            A waterlock is effective here.

  20. Scott lindsey

    I have some hot sauce I’m making with green hot peppers, soy sauce, sugar and water. I had it fermenting for about a month and just checked and the liquid part kinda turned into a gelatin type paste.

    But I still need a blender or food processor and some other stuff to complete it..

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      It’s hard to say what happened there, Scott. Did you ferment that all together? With fermenting, I’ve only used salt/brine, not all of those other ingredients. The brine will get cloudy, but not like a paste. That is most likely from the other ingredients you’ve included.

  21. Hi Mike! I plan to try my hand at fermenting some hot lemon peppers & some habaneros. I note the method calls for “sea salt”. Can Kosher or canning salt be used instead? Coarse or fine grain, does that matter? Thanks for the great website – I’m sure I will be using it as a reference for a long time!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Renee. Thanks! Yes, you can use kosher or canning salt. Most salts will work just find, as long as they do not contain any additives, like anti-clumping agents. Finer dissolves better. Let me know how it goes! Enjoy.

      1. I agree that you can use different kinds of salt, but there are a couple of things to be careful of. First, stay away from standard table salt, as that usually contains iodine, which can interfere with the fermenting process. Second, different types of salt have different densities, due to they way their crystals are formed. When a recipe gives the amount of salt in grams, always use that as your measure, not tablespoons or teaspoons. Use a digital kitchen scale if you have one, or use Google to search for the relative weights of different types of salt. It really does make a difference.

          1. Hi,
            First time tryin out this and I sat a few cans aside for fermentation earlier today and 7 hours later nothing has happened (like no pressure in the can or bubbles). I used the salt water brine method but I used salt with iodine. Could that be the reason?

            Is there anyway to start the process over? Like rinse with could water through a strainer and then do it all again?

            Thank you for so many gr8 recipies and just a wonderful website!

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            Hi, Oskar. Yes, it is possible that the iodine can interfere with your ferment. It can take more time to start fermenting, not just 7 hours, but also it could be a quiet ferment. You should be able to start over by draining and rinsing your peppers, then popping them immediately into a new brine. Just make sure everything is as clean as possible and try to avoid contamination. Let me know how it goes.

  22. Hello! I followed this recipe about two years ago and have been letting the jars ferment since. Now I am afraid to open them. How can I tell that they are still good? They have been in the back of a cabinet and I forgot about them but I would love to make a sauce now if they are still okay. The lids are fine and aren’t bulging or anything, I do see a small layer of mold on the top.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Chris. Mold is quite bad with fermenting, but you can open the ferment, scrape off the mold, then smell the peppers. Do they smell OK? You can give it a little taste and if it tastes OK, you should be fine. If it smells/tastes bad, toss it out.

  23. Andrea Saylor

    Help! I am fermenting Serrano peppers. I bought the Mason tops set. I made the mash as directed. No one ever says how long to wait after you have mixed the salt and peppers to see how much liquid will come out. So after 45 minutes it didn’t look much different from when I first mixed the peppers and salt, and there was not enough liquid to cover the mash. So I added brine according to your recipe, put in the weight, covered it, and pumped out the air. A couple of hours later, and the weight has sunk about 1.5 inches into the mash, and the peppers are mainly covered but a few bits on top. I left it for 2 days, checking every day. Today I check it and somehow the vacuum was gone on the Masontops lid, and the peppers are floating on top. I add more reserved brine to cover, put the lid back on and pump the air. Lots of bubbles came up through the mash as I am pumping, and the peppers float right back to the top. The weight is now about an inch from the bottom of the quart jar. What do I do? Last year I fermented green Tabascos using a bowl and lots of brine, with just a towel over it and it did fine. I’m afraid it’s going to be dangerous or something. It doesn’t smell bad, but it’s early days yet. I have a pic of the ferment, but can’t add it here ????

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Andrea, if you don’t see any signs of contamination/growth and there is no foul odor, you can try to get it set again. Water starts to come out of the peppers after a day or so, not that quickly. Since you added the brine, perhaps there is just too much liquid. You really only need enough to cover. In the future you could try chopping the peppers a bit larger. You can also try filling a baggie with water and stuffing it into the jar to keep everything down if the weights aren’t working properly. I hope this helps.

  24. HI there! I made your Louisiana hot sauce and loved it!! I’m now using up the last of the cayennes from my garden and am trying the fermented version. My question/concern is that I used the brine method and instructions state to make sure the peppers are covered in water, but they are floating to the top. The next day I tried taking a wide spoon to press them down but they just float back up. is this OK or what can I do? I do not have any weights and won’t have time to purchase any before this process is done. Thanks!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Marcy. One quick method is to fill a baggie with water, seal it, and place it into the jar to force everything down below the water. See if that works. It is important to keep everything submerged to avoid contamination, like mold, from growing on the exposed peppers. Let me know how it goes for you.

      1. Thank you so much for the speedy reply! You are a patient man answering all of these questions. 🙂 Great idea. I tried it and it seems to work. I have a lot of peppers in my quart jar and it displaced much of the water and some of the pepper bits snuck up above the baggie. is that OK? There’s still about 2 inches of liquid before the top of the jar but really no air space at this point. Maybe I should have used two jars? Which brings up another question. How bad is it to disturb the peppers once the process has started? I just started mine yesterday. I did get some of the masontops that you recommended so we have no air issues. Thanks again!

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          No problem, Marcy. You can try to shove those sneaky peppers down, or just remove them if there are only a few. They shouldn’t be left exposed. It’s OK to disturb the peppers, but you want to limit how often you open the lids because that opens the peppers to contamination. Maybe just shake the jars. Good luck!

  25. Stephen Clarke

    Hi there. Loving your recipe’s so I decided to have another attempt at fermenting. I’ve followed your instructions to the letter but after 4 days of it bubbling away nicely it has, apparently, stopped. Is it done or do I need to give it some sort of kickstart? I would appreciate any suggestions, especially as I have 5lbs of Aji crystal fermenting!!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi Stephen. This is common, where activity slows and gets very quiet. Rest assured, there is still activity going on there. I would just let it sit for your preferred time and proceed when that time is up. Let me know how it turns out for you. Enjoy!

  26. Good morning,
    I wanted to understand something more about the possibility of using fresh and dried peppers.
    – Is the cutting and fermentation process the same?
    – can i make a mix of fresh and dried to put in the brine?
    – in this case, is brine better or is it good to mix with just salt?
    Last thing: my chillies are ripening at different times. If I freeze the chillies ready now and then use them when I have all matured is there any risk of a nasty mush?
    I thank you immediately for the answers!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lorenzo, you can ferment with frozen and dried pods, and you can ferment them together. Everything is basically the same. If you ferment with only frozen or only dried, you may need a culture starter to get things going. The frozen pods may get softer than fresh, but it won’t matter if you’re making a processed sauce with them. Good luck!

  27. I’ve fermented several types of peppers (Habanero, Carolina Reaper, Cayenne, Serrano) using the rubber airlock fermeter lids and the Easy Fermenter lids to see how the two compare. The peppers have been fermenting for about 2 1/2 weeks and most of them have developed a layer of white, thick film, which I assume is the yeast you write about. I’m guessing they’re about done fermeting. Should I just remove the fermenting tops, scrape the white film off the top and put on regular mason jar lids for storage or do I need to leave the fermenting lids on to store them? I’m going to be harvesting a bunch more this weekend that I will start fermenting soon.

    A note about the ones I did – It worked fine except I think I must have chopped them too finely in the food processor since the glass weights sank as the liquid formed in the ferment. Next batches will be chopped a little coarser.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chuck, yes, you can do that. Remove the lids, scrape off the kahm yeast and store in the fridge in the brine. Fermentation will stop in the cold temperature. Enjoy!!!

  28. Jason Pollick

    Hi Michael, I think I have made a terrible mistake and hopefully there is some way to salvage it. I processed a bunch of peppers in a blender so the mash is all frothy and won’t settle at all because of the trapped air. I tried pouring brine on top but it just vanishes into the froth. Can anything be done?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jason, I would just keep adding more brine to cover. It will have to cover eventually. And get a weight of some sort to press the peppers down, like a glass weight or cabbage leaves. I hope this helps.

      1. Jason Pollick

        Thanks, I will try that. In the future, would you recommend a food processor rather than a blender?

  29. I started 3 jars of different kinds of peppers 2 days ago. The jalapeño appear to be fermenting the most based on bubbles. But the brine in that one is getting foggy. Is this normal? This is my 1st fermentation. Thanks

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Kaleena. Yes, it is normal for the brine to get cloudy. Let me know how it turns out for you. Enjoy!

  30. Had Great crop of Cayenne peppers this year and started fermenting this morning. I used the brine method and poured it over the peppers. My question: when I go to make the sauce, do I add the entire contents of the jar, or strain off the brine and just add the peppers as I begin to make hot sauce?? Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mike, I usually puree the whole thing together, brine and all, but you CAN drain it off if you’d like to do it that way, or drain only some for a thicker batch of sauce. Let me know how it goes.

  31. Can you add measurements in real units? I don’t have scales or containers that measure in ‘pounds’ or ‘quarts’.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I’ve been meaning to update this and have done so. I hope it helps. Thanks for your friendly reminder.

    2. Real units? What’s more real than pounds or quarts? You most likely have measuring cup which are likely delineated in fluid ounces, pints, and quarts. As to weights: you can buy a dry measure scale at Home Depot for $10. Unit conversion tables are a dime a dozen on the internet. Or are you seeking units using the metric system? These are easily converted but you may need a calculator to do so. Cheers.

  32. Chuck Darney

    I’ll be harvesting lots of nice, hot peppers shortly. There will be Habaneros, Carolina Reapers, Ghost, Scorpion Morugas and some other miler ones like Serrano and Jalapeno.

    I would like to make a fermented pepper mash with each of the peppers alone then mix with other fermented pepper mashes and/or add other ingredients to make various hot sauces. Once something like fruit, carrots, onions, garlic, etc. are added should the sauce be fermented again or is the fermented peppers sufficient? Should things like onions and garlic be included in the fermentation or will just the peppers alone be good? If you’ve tried this, do you just add the additional ingredients to the pepper mash by taste or do you have some “rule of thumb” you use? I’ve noticed your recipes specifying a weight of fresh peppers to use for making the pepper mash but I didn’t notice a “fermented and processed” quantity.

    I plan to make a considerable amount of mash from the various peppers.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chuck, it’s a great idea to ferment your pepper types separately so you can mix and match as desired. You can do the same for other vegetables, then control the exact ratios of everything you’re making. However, if you wanted, you could certainly ferment ingredients together, like onion and peppers, etc. You really have multiple options, and it’s best to experiment to find which results are best for you. As far as adding in other ingredients like fruit, carrots, no, you don’t have to ferment again. You can combine your fermented peppers with either fresh or fermented fruits, carrots, onions, etc, for different flavor results. So much to experiment with, right? I often love the combination of fermented peppers with cooked onions and garlic, maybe carrots or fruit. I hope this helps, but let me know if you’d like to discuss further.

  33. I think i messed up. I wanted to use this method to make wing sauce. I made a mash using various peppers from my garden (Reapers, Scorpions, Ghost, Jalepenos). Once it was all mashed it was about 3/4 gallon in peppers. I was paranoid about mold so i added the brine solution and left it for 3 weeks. After this period, all the signs were good and so i strained of the excess water and added distilled vinegar. My plan was to mix this up with some garlic powder and after a few days, push it through a sieve to produce my sauce. The thing that worries me is that, in a moment of madness, i threw the used brine water away and i am worried that most of my chili flavour may have gone with it. Am i worried about nothing?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Richard, no, you can still make a new brine if you’d like, or just process your peppers as described. You may have lost a bit of flavor, but that mash still has loads of flavor. You should be able to do a lot with what you have. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Michael-You were right. When i got home last night, i used a hand blender on the mixture and then tasted it. There is still plenty of chilli flavour and of course heat!
        I am not getting that classic buffalo flavour yet but i will work on that. So far the mixture contains:
        Distilled white Vinegar
        Onion Powder
        Garlic Powder
        I will try to add some additional things from your buffalo recipe, basically smoked paprika and worcestershire sauce but i am guessing that if i want to keep it shelf stable, i will not be able to add any butter which i guess is when the true buffalo flavour will be made. I can add this when i am cooking up the sauce to put on my wings.
        Will let you know how it goes.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Sounds great. Yes, the butter is what will really bring that Buffalo flavor, mixed with the finished sauce. Definitely let me know how it goes. Good luck!

          1. My buffalo sauce turned out great once i added butter. The only slight grumble that i have (and this is entirely my fault)-its nuclear hot! I think i will make a new batch with mild chillis and mix them together to get a happy medium. Do you think i should ferment them or merely soak them in vinegar and mash them in the food processor?

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            Sorry to hear it’s too hot, Richard! If you’re going to make a milder version, you can do it either way, with or without fermenting. Fermenting will mellow the overall flavors a bit, but it’s really up to personal preference. If you don’t feel like waiting, skip the fermenting. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  34. Is it safe to add more processed peppers as they ripen as long as I keep the salt to weight ratio? Or would it be better to freeze my peppers until they are all ripe and process them all together?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jason, to be honest, I’ve never added more peppers to an already fermenting batch. I try not to open the lid once it is on to avoid contamination, though sometimes you have to if you need to submerge any peppers that have floated above the brine. The brine is reusable, so I don’t really see why you couldn’t add more as you go along, provided you’re careful to avoid contaminating the current batch. You can always just get several going at any given time, or freezing is a good option, though in that case you may need a starter of some sort to get the ferment going. Let me know how it goes for you.

      1. Hi Michael, thanks for the reply, that makes perfect sense.

        On another topic, what is your wisdom regarding fermenting pepper “juice” versus mash? Bear with me here…

        I find the seeds of some peppers to be bitter in my sauces, so to save time when I make big batches, I usually run my peppers through a cold-press juice extractor. This gets rid of the seeds and also the skins of some thicker walled peppers that don’t process well, leaving me with a nice spicy pepper juice.

        Would this juice make for a good ferment, or do you really need more “mass” when you ferment?

        thanks for all your tips and your dedication to this site!

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          You should be able to ferment the juice, Jason. If your end goal is more of a liquid, this is a good way to do it, though you can always scoop out the seeds/membranes before the ferment. Fermenting with more of a juice would be similar to making beer or kombucha.

  35. Chilli Lovers

    Hi, i have some questions. Please help me.
    1. Do i need to wash my peppers and let it dry before making a mash?
    2. Is it ok if i boil my peppers and then let them cool down and Then i make a mash?
    3. 1-2 weeks fermentation is slow down or just stop producing gas?
    4. No more gas build up or bubbling, it means the pepper mash is finish fermenting? And i can process it for bottling?
    5. How long fermentation stop or ready to bottling if i ferment 70kg or 1 drum?
    6. I ask these questions because my hot sauce explode in room temperature. Please help me.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chilli Lovers, to answer your questions:

      1. You should wash and dry your peppers after picking them, yes.
      2. Yes, it is OK to do so. You don’t have to, but you can ferment them either way.
      3. 2 weeks is usually sufficient for a quick ferment, though you may still see activity. You can realistically ferment as long as you’d like, as long as oxygen doesn’t get in. It really depends on your overall fermentation goals. I usually like to go 4-6 weeks to get a flavor change and some fizz.
      4. See my response above. You may still have a “quiet ferment” and not see bubbling, but there can still be fermentation. But yes, you can process and bottle when ready.
      5. I’m not sure exactly, but again, I usually go 4-6 weeks, though sometimes 3 months or longer.
      6. Sorry to hear!

      Let me know if this helps. Happy to help more as needed. Good luck!

    2. 6. Did the hot sauce explode during fermentation or after when you processed the sauce? If it was during the fermentation, i’d suggest “Burping” the jars to release excess gas. I’d recommend using an airlock lid that you can get that fits mason jars. It sounds like you’re making a very large batch, you can get 6 gallon bottles and airlocks from winemaking stores which will help. If the explosion happened after bottling the final sauce, i’d suggest using a hot water bath on your hot sauce jars to kill off any fermentation that may still be taking place.

  36. Hello. I am new to making hot sauce. I want to use cayenne peppers and red bell peppers. Do you consider these pepper thin or thick skinned peppers.

    Thanks. Diane

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Diane. Bell peppers are pretty thick walled. Cayenne peppers are thinner walled, depending on the variety, so plan accordingly.

  37. Mike Skinner

    Hello Mike! Well after a couple of tries, I had some success with getting a good fermentation.

    Can you suggest a food processor brand/model that will better liquify my brew? I have good flavor, but the consistency isn’t, well, consistent. There’s too much pulp. I’m going more for a Louisiana or Crystal-style hot sauce.

    I’m using a bullet presently, which just isn’t liquifying the material sufficiently. I have a small food processor – but it doesn’t do well AT ALL with liquid.

    I would prefer to stay under $100 if you can suggest something that would do a good job.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Congratulations, Mike. Great job. For a blender, I use a Kitchenaid and a Magic Bullet, but have also heard great things about Blendtech.

    2. Philip Polk Palmer

      Mike, if you want a thin, Louisiana sauce style consistency, you’re going to want to strain the seeds and pulp from your mash after fermenting. You can do this with cheese cloth and rubber gloves, or by using a high quality strainer, such as a Victorio strainer. Even the best food blenders will not give you that consistency, you have to strain it.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Yes, straining will give you a much thinner consistency.

    3. Do yourself a favor and pick up an immersion blender. Even the inexpensive $16 one from Walmart works great. No blender to clean up. Blend it right in the pot you are using to cook/prepare the sauce in. Does a good job turning everything in the pot into a homogenous well blended mixture, perfect for hot sauce.

  38. I made up 650g of salted Habanero mash but 3 hours later there is hardly any visible liquid. Looks like I need to add liquid. What do you think?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Flyn, it takes time for the liquid to appear, but if you need to, you can always add in a brine.

  39. Mike Skinner

    Hi Michael: quick question for you. Hey was moving the jars gently and I I noticed a ton of bubbles coming up. I started to daily tilt the jar and twirl them a bit to release these bubbles that build up quite a bit every day. This turned out to not be a great idea since a couple of pieces of garlic escaped the glass weight and came to the top (which I plucked out).

    Is this air build up normal? I’m using the gel “auto burp” gizmo. Will these bubbles clear themselves without me tilting it?

    Note that i am using the brine method with habanero halves and whole garlic cloves with a slice of onion on top to help hold down the materials (and a glass weight) because my first attempt with chopped habaneros didn’t turn out very well – they were just very floaty…


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Mike. Yes, it is common to get some of that gas build up from fermenting, which is why you need to burp the jars to release the pressure. Your auto burp gizmos should take care of the excess.

  40. I am trying to make pepper mash and started five days ago. I used 8 cloves of garlic, some ginger, 1 red bell pepper, 2 carrots and a little of a pound of habaneros. I washed the habaneros, but did not let completely dry. I processed all of the veggies with 3 tablespoons of Kosher Salt for 1.4 lbs of material. I then put in a mason jar with an airlock. There is some material on the walls of the jar and the liquids have not covered the mash yet. Should I scrape jar sides and press on the mash to get it more under the liquid?

    Thanks for any help.


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Josh, as soon as you can, yes, I would scrape it down and get everything submerged in liquid. Let me know how it goes.

      1. Hi Mike,

        Thanks for advise. Now the problem is there are white, fuzzy spots on top of the mash and on the sides where it is exposed to air. Probably yeast, but could be mold too I guess. Should I still submerge everything in liquid? Should I throw batch away? Or wait and scrape fuzziest assuming least off at the end. Mash does not smell bad as I opened to smell.

        Thanks for all of your help,


        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Josh, any fuzzy growth is mold, and should be scraped off and discarded. After doing that, check the smell of the overall mash. If it smells OK, give it a small taste. If that is OK, you should be OK to proceed with fermenting, but keep further eye on it. Make sure you are using the best temperatures, between 65° to 70°F, to avoid future mold growth.

          1. Mike,

            I scraped off the mold the best I could erroring on tossing too much. I could not get all of the mash off of the sides of jar, but most. I did not taste mash, however it had a very acidic smell. Not rotten. I also tried to push remaining mash under liquid, but there is just not enough liquid to cover it all. Should I add some brine or just leave it be? Also, temperature should be in the range you state..home is 74 degrees, but basement is cooler..I would guess no more than 10 really close to temperature you gave. I will take the temperature tonight to confirm.
            Thanks again for all of the help.

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            Great, Josh. I wouldn’t add any other brine if everything is under the liquid. Otherwise, you can add a bit. Good luck!

  41. Good day. I want to make bottled chilli sauce for commercial purposes. how long does it keep on the shelf and what would u advice to keep safe.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Good day, Venny. If you’d like to produce for commercial purposes, I would look into renting space at a commercial kitchen, and be sure to follow all of your local rules for selling commercial products. They will have specific guidelines to follow. Properly bottles hot sauces can last a very long time.

  42. Mike Skinner

    Good day sir. Thank you for all of your kind contributions. Maybe I’m being thick-headed, but would rather save the botulism for my forehead…

    I’m a little lost on these glass weights. I’m going to use 16 and/or 32oz Ball wide-mouths with those auto-burper do-dads. What kind of glass weights do you use or recommend? It seems like in order to be effective that they should “barely” be smaller than the inside of the jar to keep everything pressed down. But typically the mouth is narrower than the bulk of the jar so that it if the weight goes too far down then the weight is too small in diameter. I guess if I used the wet method that I would fill the jar almost to the top with material, add the brine, and set the weight in the top so that the weight can’t descend past the top part of the jar. But what about using the salt only method? It seems like as the mash compresses that the weight would drop down, and then little bits of material would come up around the glass.

    Also, i’ve seen some glass weights that have a little nub in the top that you can grab – but it seems like part of the liquid could sit around in that area, separated from the other material, and turn into some kind of pukey stuff, no?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Mike – yes, I’ve used the glass weights and have had similar issues you’re describing. I occasionally have to push things down a bit with the weights because some material does float up around the sides, though it isn’t always an issue. Others have used more malleable items like cabbage leaves to keep things properly submerged. When using only the salt method, the liquid from the peppers eventually releases and covers the peppers, but you will sometimes get some small bits. See if the cabbage leaf or some similar item works better for you.

    2. Mike Skinner

      Thanks so much.

      Any reason that I can’t first smoke the peppers on my electric grill before putting together the mash? I love that smokey flavor.

      Pickling salt is ok to use? And bottled water is ok?

      Gonna give it a whirl this weekend.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Sure thing, Mike. Let me know how it goes. I was on a thread recently discussing the fermentation of smoked peppers. Others have done it, though the smoke can kill off the useful bacteria. You can try it, but if you’re concerned, either use a starter, or mix in some fresh peppers to ensure the fermentation process starts. For the water, spring water is great for fermenting. For the salt, pickling salt should be just fine, as long as it does not contain any iodine or anti-caking agents. Good luck!

  43. Hallo, need some help, i started making my own tabasco sauce, but used a blender to chop up the chillies with 24g salt per 1 kg of chillies and i used water to help chop up the chillies in the blender, will the mixture fermentate correctly with the water that i added? I know you should actually just use chillies and salt, not water mixed with it?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nico, the peppers will still ferment this way, but you’ll have a more difficult time keeping everything submerged under the water. You’ll need to keep an eye on that. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  44. I started off a mixed frozen pepper mash yesterday after reading various different recipes. Some of these called for salt + sugar and one called for white wine not water.

    I used 300g cleaned peppers + 10g sea salt + 15g sugar and about 1/2 cup wine. Do you think that mix’ll work OK?

    I didn’t know about using starter culture for frozen peppers until reading through all your advice here, so I’ll make some whey & add it in. How much should I add?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Omar, you shouldn’t need more than a couple tablespoons of whey, and really only the salt from my experience. Peppers are typically low in sugar, so you can add some to give the bacteria more to consume, though I don’t find it necessary. You can also add in other ingredients that have higher sugar levels if ultimately using them to make a hot sauce. Let me know how it turns out.

  45. I have been doing a brine fermentation on peppers from my garden harvest last year. It has been fermenting for about 10 months now! Besides a little kahm yeast on the very bottom of the jars, it looks great. I havent opened it yet, but assuming it doesnt smell rotten, is there any reason I should be cautious of eating this after I cook it into a sauce?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mark, smell is really the best indicator, and check for signs of mold or rot. Otherwise, you should be fine. Enjoy!

  46. Hi. Did the salt water fermentation process. After about 2 weeks, got white mold layer. Is that right?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Rob, is it mold for sure? It might be kahm yeast. Kahm yeast forms when the sugar is consumed and the PH drops because of lactic acid formation. Peppers are more prone to this because they are sweeter. Kahm yeast can be scraped off. Let me know.

      1. Hi, I have recurring Kahm yeast in my hot sauce mix, must be the sweet peppers and tomatoes, and I keep scraping it off. (It’s only been two weeks)…. My biggest concern is Does it alter taste? Will my sauce taste weird and be slimy?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Hi, Sega. Kahm yeast is definitely something you can scrape off. If it gets into the mash, it can leave a bitter taste, so get as much out as you can.

      2. Hi Michael. Not sure if it’s mold or kham yeast. How can one tell? Also, I used a bodem (coffee plunger) to keep the chillies down. Works very well.
        When you “burp” the jars, doesn’t it fill up with air? Affecting the anaerobic process?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Nice tip on the bodem. Kahm yeast will float at the top and is whitish in color. Mold is typically a blue or green color, though it can be white, and it is fuzzier. Check the smell, too. If it smells bad, that’s not a good thing. Also, yes, when you burp the jars, you do run the risk of contamination. It is best to do it quickly, or use an airlock system. I’ve been using the Mason Top Lids and am happy with them. There’s a link to them in the text above.

  47. Hi. Not sure if this has been asked.. I made my mash…did the fermentation…got some great sauce. Now I have left over mash, which I thought would make a great relish. Any advise or recipe on how to make a relish from my unused mash?

  48. Hi , have tons of serrano peppers , can i do The fermenting proces in 200 liters plastic Containers ?(plastic drums) and , does that amount of peppers (mash) Will call for extra care or precautions?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Virgilio, I have never fermented a batch that large. As long as you follow proper safety protocols and everything is properly cleaned and covered, I’m sure you’d be fine. You might look into how commercial operations operate.

  49. When I’m fermenting, I’m using 5 kilos of peppers, which is yielding me 6 Liters when processed, during the initial fermentation, I’m getting expansion to almost twice that amount, which is making it difficult to find a proper container to not have too much headspace once it has “calmed down”. Any suggestions?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brac, are you using jars with airlocks? The gas is causing the expansion, I would suspect, but should be able to be released through your airlock or through burping the gases. You may need to use larger containers.

  50. Awesome site guys, can’t believe it took me this long to find it!
    Can I use distilled water for the brine? We don’t have specific ‘chlorine free’ water in South Africa.
    Thanks for the help!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jacques. Yes, you can use distilled water for vegetable ferments. Let me know how it turns out for you.

    2. Yes, distilled works. Some people will use tap water and leave it out 24 hours on your countertop because chlorine is unstable (so I’ve heard).

  51. Ed Christopher

    Love the site and all the information. A few weeks ago I made a Ghost sauce and it turned out great. I am about to venture into fermenting two different peppers I grew this year. Aji Amarillos and Ghosts. For the Ajis I am thinking that I will just make the pepper mash without water. I do not want to dilute their beautiful flavor. Am I right in my thinking that the water brine method would dilute the flavor or, actually give me more flavorful liquid increasing my final yield? Needless to say the more yield I can get with degrading it the better. Also, for the mash method, 1 teaspoon of salt to a pound of peppers does not sound like much salt, using canning salt. Any comments or suggestions? I know I am overthinking this but is my third year with the Ajis and they are my pride and joy. I am also growing them in the Chicago region.

    For the Ghost Peppers I plan to use the water brine method given that they are thin walled. I am planning to add some garlic to both but I still have some time to think about it since the peppers are still ripening. I got a late start getting the plants started this year. Thanks for this website.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Ed. I don’t think the brine method affects flavor, really, so both methods are good from my perspective. As for the salt, it may sound like a lot, but that briny environment is important to stop the growth of bad bacteria. You still have pepper ripening? I’m also in the Chicago area and had to pick my peppers quite a while back. Let me know how it all turns out for you. Please follow up with a quick report. I and my readers would love to hear!

      1. Ed Christopher

        Hey Mike. The deed is done. Processed about 1.2 pounds of Aji’s . They filled the quart jar about 2/3rds. Added the brine and weight and will just wait. I didn’t like the idea of any floating mash around the edges of the weight so I took some whole Ajis and and sliced them open and pressed them on top of the mash before adding the weight it worked great. Also did about 11 ounces of Ghost.

        We battled frost taking the plants in at night and covering others as long as we could. We finally lost the battle about 1.5 weeks ago, picked everything and did the banana in the bag with the peppers trick to help the ripening process. We still have about a pound or more the Ajis that are partially ripe so I will see if they continue to ripen. I will dehydrate them and use the flakes.

        I also have 1 Rocoto plant that I took inside. It has three peppers that I am hoping make it to adulthood. I did not get good germination with my Rocotos this year and the few pants that did survive never pollinated. Needless to say I might be buying seeds again. Oh, it reminds me. I think rocotos cross pollinate very easy. Last year I had two plants that the ripe peppers turned orange like the Ajis and were not as hot as they should be.f The seeds from them never did germinate. Sorry for running on. I will try to report on the fermentation and sauce around the new year.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jan, yes, you can use kombucha or brine from a previous ferment to get you going. Let me know how it goes.

  52. I had a small mental lapse and used tap water instead of my non-chlorinated water when I made my mash. Do you have any advice moving forward to save the sauce? Can I make a non fermented sauce out of it? I’m guessing it won’t ferment because of the chlorine. It’s my year’s end batch so I’m trying to save it if possible. As always, thank you for all the help.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brandon, if fermentation doesn’t start, you should still be able to use the batch. Just check it for any weird contamination. I would process the peppers with a normal recipe and cook it down, etc. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  53. Mario Piper

    I just mashed some ghost peppers and naga Dorset peppers. I added the sal water brine, but added a bit too much. I’m in a conundrum now. I want to drain it a bit so that the water just covers it, but I don’t want to waste any of the capsainoids. What to do?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mario, you can leave it as it, or add more peppers to use the brine. If you really feel you need to drain, best to do it sooner rather than later. Let me know how it goes.

  54. I wish that you would give us a percentage of salt by weight. For example, when I make sauerkraut I have learned to weigh the ingredients that are going into the crock and multiply by .02 (2 percent) to see how much salt I need. Then I weight out that much salt. To give a volume, by tablespoon, is not accurate. Different salts have different size crystals and therefore different volumes. But I get confused when I’m adding something like water (no water goes into sauerkraut since the liquid from the mashed cabbage is enough). I guess I’m going to make the mash of chiles, add enough spring water to cover and then figure out how much it all weighs subtracting the weight of the jar of course and then multiply by 2%. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      John, I see different percentages from different resources. I shoot for between 3-5%, as peppers are a bit more prone to mold that other vegetables. Some people go with 1.5%, while others will go up to 10% for mash. I feel about 5% is fine, but you can go even lower if you’re concerned about the amount of salt. Higher concentrations of salt will result in a slower ferment, but too low and you run the risk of letting the bad bacteria a foothold.

  55. Hey, hoping to have some help. I did this and it’s been about 7 days. The peppers are not changing color, but they definitely smell like thai chilies. I have noticed some black spots on a couple of the peppers, but didn’t know if they were there prior. Should I be worried. I filled a quart jar 2/3 full and put 3.5 tablespoons of salt and filled with enough water to cover the peppers. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Rhea, I’m not sure if those dark spots are rot, but it’s not a good sign. It would be rot from before you started, which could permeate the brine. Yuck. You may want to remove those and check them.

  56. Firstly, I love this website. Good work! Last weekend I harvested my chillis, made 3 of your sauces and decided to make a mash of everything that was left (Trinidad scorpion, naga, Orange habs and some prairie fire).
    Now onto my question(s)
    I used the wet brine method. My mash has risen to the top. Do you think I should just stir this all up again and try to push the mash down (I don’t have any weights or anything involved)?
    Would I need to sterilise anything I use to stir/push?
    Should I add more fresh brine to ensure they are well submerged (although I’m sure it will just rise to the new level!)?

    Thanks in advance, Matt

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Matt, yes, you can sterilize a spoon and just sort of shove everything down. It’s important that it stays below the brine to stay protected. You can always add in a bit more of the brine to make sure it’s all covered. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  57. love the site and already made the ghost pepper pineapple mango hot sauce. it came out great and made some for friends and family who also enjoyed it.
    I am trying to ferment a small batch of a 3 pepper blend of Ghost peppers, Thai Hot Chili and Cayenne for the first time. I have added small amounts of peppers to the mash since I first started it. I can clearly see the fermentation happening but not sure what type of funky smell I should be expecting.
    thanks for the help kevin

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kevin, you might not get a funky smell. Sometimes it’s a bit sour/acidic as it ferments, though if you get kham yeast growth, you might notice that grows extra sour, though you can skim it off the top. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. just made my first batch of hot sauce using the three pepper mash, it came out excellent, I used your siracha recipe loosely. I had used malted vinegar and added paprika , and extra garlic and a few other ingredients. friends and family already are asking me when the next batch is coming. got the last batch of peppers (and much larger amount) starting again to ferment(I might be getting addicted). thanks again for everything , love the site and been recommending it to everyone I talk to

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Thanks a lot, Kevin! I’m glad to be helpful. Thanks for spreading the word!

  58. I wanted to make fermented sweet pepper paste with dried pineapple but forgot it until after the
    peppers were fermented. Can I add the dried pineapples after the fermentation??? And if so,
    will this change how long the peppers can be kept refrigerated? Also, can a refrigerated ferment
    ever be taken out and re-fermented ?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Candyce, you can still make a paste from the fermented peppers, though be sure to drain them or you’ll get more of a sauce. You can add dried pineapples into the mix. They’re dried, so still should be safe and should last quite a while in the fridge, covered. The past won’t be in the brine environment, so I’m not sure how long, but still should have several months, covered. Just keep an eye on it. I’ve never tried to start a new ferment after refrigeration, but if you did try, you might need a culture starter to start it going again. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

      1. To be clear……I already have a mushy fermented pepper paste with some brine (refrigerated). Now I will take the dried pineapple and
        perhaps make a separate paste and then stir it into the already fermented pepper paste. Since there is some brine still, the pineapple
        paste will be mixed into the pepper paste well. Will the existed brine protect the pineapple now in terms of spoilage even though it did
        not actually go through the fermentation process? Thanks.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Candyce, as long as the overall mix has an acidity of 4.0 or below, you should be totally fine if your goal is to keep it longer. I think it sounds like a wonderful mix.

  59. Have fermented yellow Devils Tongue chilli’s for 4 weeks, temperature in the Dry Tropics of Australia has been between 15 and 30c. All smells great. At the end of the article dated 20 sep 2017 you mention adding vinegar.
    How much vinegar do you recommend per pound of mash?
    Love each weeks recipes.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Joel. I would probably use up to a half cup of vinegar, depending on whether or not you’re using other ingredients, but would probably start with a couple tablespoons first and adjust for taste from there. Let me know how it comes out for you.

  60. Christal Bartholomew

    Okay. First time trying the mash. I’m using hatch chilies because I wanted a green. Couple of questions. I seem to still have a lot of foam from the peppers in the food processor. Two. The brine is forming at the bottom of the jar. So I drained the jar and put the brine over top, used a storage bag to push the mash down again and poured the rest of the brine in the bag for weight. Think this will work?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Christal, the foam is probably from air and the vigorous processing of the peppers. That usually subsides. Yes, it is necessary to keep the peppers below the brine. The brine in the bag should work perfectly. Very smart! I use a small glass weight to keep mine down. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  61. Hi! I followed these instructions and about 14 hours later, no brine has come to the top. I am using about 14 oz of jalapenos with just under a tsp of salt.

    Should I just make my own brine? Add more salt?

    As a side note, I read another site that said one should not do this with green hot peppers, but gave no reason why. Any thoughts on that?


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lizzie, if you are concerned, it is probably best for you to use the wet brine method. You can use the peppers you are already using. Let me know how it goes. I have done both methods with green hot peppers without issue. It could just be a low moisture content of the peppers you are using.

      1. Thanks for the fast reply!

        I made some brine (couldn’t get to it until about 48 hours later).

        It looked like there was some white stuff on the top of the non-brined peppers. Perhaps the start of fermentation? I did not scoop this out, but did attempt to pour in the brine. Even though everything was packed down, some pepper bits rose to the top. Maybe they’re processed too finely?

        Anyway, I then drained this in a strainer, and repacked the peppers. I managed to slowly put in the brine a spoon at a time. It’s a bit better, but still quite a bit footing at the top.

        Should I have scooped out the white bits? Is this a lost cause?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Lizzie, the white bits might have just been kamh yeast, which is normal. You can scoop it out. It’s somewhat bitter. The best way to judge if the ferment isn’t working or is spoiled at this point is to inspect it. How does it smell? Is it off putting? Smell rotten? Is there a gross taste to the brine? You will know when it is bad.

  62. Do you know of anything that I could buy in my local grocery store that would work as a fermentation culture? I froze a bunch of peppers from my garden over the last couple months and I put them into jars today to ferment. I don’t know if Amazon can get me a culture packet soon enough if it doesn’t start fermenting. How often do you need cultures when you have fermented frozen peppers? Thanks again for all the help.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brandon, not sure if your local store will have dried starter cultures or not. You can always try to strain yogurt or kefir and use the separated whey as a starter. I haven’t tried that yet, though. If you do so, let me know how it goes. Just be sure it is properly strained and separated from the solids.

    2. I’ve used about a 1/4 cup of sauerkraut brine (not jarred, use bagged or home made) to jump start the fermentation in the past, but a starter culture usually isn’t necessary from what I’ve recently read.

  63. During the 1-2+ week fermenting process, can you top up the pepper mash with additional chilis? The Serrano plant keeps producing and I figured I’d throw them into the batch during maybe the first week.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Trent, I don’t see any real issue with this other than two things – an increased risk in contamination when you open the lids and the different levels of ferment in the peppers. I don’t think either is a big deal, though. Just be sure to watch out for any signs of contamination above the water line and make sure the added peppers are properly submerged. Let me know how it goes.

  64. Mike, great site and recepies. I’ve been growing chilies for some time and now have ideas what to do with them. Ine question tho. I started the mash with 3 different types of chilies using brine. Good non-clorine water and sea salt. They fermented quickly (I live in a hot climate 80+) but all of them have pretty strong bitterness. Can’t kill it even with sugar or honey. Any ideas what went wrong?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jack. I sometimes get some bitterness with my fermented pepper batches. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on it, whether it is from kahm yeast or from the starting peppers themselves, where the slight bitterness is amplified in the fermentation process. The best way to counter it is through the addition of other ingredients. You’ve tried sugar and honey, but try adding an acid like vinegar or lime juice, which can help balance it out. Certain roasted vegetables can help, too, like carrots or other flavors. Garlic is good. They can all help balance out the bitterness. Give the final sauce time to rest and let the flavors meld in the refrigerator. Let me know if this helps counterbalance that bitterness for you.

  65. I tried making this last night and had a bit of a problem. I live in a warm climate and overnight a lot of the liquid overflowed and it all seems a bit dry now. After stirring it up I was able to get some of the liquid from the bottom mixed in but again it seems a bit dry. What can I do to save this? Add more water? Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Eliot, just make sure you have enough liquid in the jar to cover the peppers and you should be OK.

  66. Phillip Lander


    just wondering if you have ever combined rosemary with chili as a ferment or sauce

    I would like your opinion

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Phillip, yes, I have used rosemary and other herbs in making sauces and hot sauces, both fresh and fermented. It’s a great addition for certain sauces. Give it a try!

  67. I have been fermenting about a pound of Serrano’s and a pound of Habaneros for almost a month now. I have been burping them every day and have dad to skim off a little bit of white off the top a couple times. In the bottom of my jars there is some white around the circular groves of the bottom of the jar. Both jars have a sour smell. I have never done this before so I don’t know how it’s supposed to smell or taste. Do you think it’s still good?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Eric, it sounds to me like the whitish color around the bottom grooves is a result of sediment, which is harmless. The sour smell is fairly common, and often described differently by fermenters. Finished ferments should smell acidic and pickly, which can smell a bit sour. As long as it doesn’t smell “bad”, like nasty rotting.

  68. Greg Pope

    Do you have thoughts on a mash of Caroliner Reapers? Any thoughts on how I avoid doing serious injury to myself? I normally ferment with Cayenne chilis as I love the flavors. This will be my first experience with the reapers.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Greg, I’ve made many mashes with superhots, so you should be fine. The biggest thing is ventilation. Make sure you are a well ventilated room, or maybe do it outside if you can. The fumes can really get you. Also, wear gloves if you have sensitive skin. Peppers don’t bother me, but I do feel the Reaper. True heat! Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. I have Reapers and Scorpions growing in abundance in my garden so i plan to start fermenting to make sauce. Having read your response above, i am a little concerned about the fumes.I used a dehydrator to dry a few pounds of Reapers last week and the fumes were crazy. i ended up moving the machine outside to combat this .
        Problem is that i live in Texans and the temperature outside barely gets below 90 degrees at this time of year so that is not an option for fermenting. I have just ordered some airlocks, will these limit the amount of fumes?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Richard, the airlocks should help to keep fumes from permeating the air too much, but you’ll probably notice some with Reapers and superhots. I didn’t think it was bad. I know it’s difficult to do this outside with such temperatures. I wind up using my garage a lot when working with drying superhots. I usually don’t have an issue with fermenting. Let me know how it goes.

  69. I want to try this but I keep reading that for frozen peppers I may require a starter. Can you tell me what a starter is or what you recommend?

    REPLY: Leigh, it’s a “fermentation culture starter”. Do a search on Amazon or Google to find products. I don’t have a specific recommendation, but have had success with some. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  70. Hi, thanks for the recipe. I grew A LOT of pepper last year and froze them. I’m following your recipe to ferment them but my pepper mash keeps on rising up and the liquid brine keeps on the bottom.
    I food processed all of my red peppers into a mush and made the liquid brine to top them off but it just ends up at the bottom and the peppers are constantly in the air.
    I decided with my greens and habeneros to just slice them and add the liquid brine and that worked way way better like pickling.
    Anyhow what can I do with my red pepper mush to keep it from floating, should I take out all the brine on the bottom and add the salt dry?

    REPLY: Cam, I use small glass weights to keep the mash under the brine, though you can use large cabbage leaves. Let me know if that works for you. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  71. I have a freezer full of various peppers and was wondering if I can still ferment them?

    REPLY: Susan, yes, you can ferment from frozen peppers, though you may need to use a starter culture to get things going. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  72. I’ve heard of cooking the hot sauce after fermentation and before bottling. Is this common? I imagine you could feel certain you are creating a more shelf-stable product. Would this affect the fermented hot sauce negatively in any way?

    REPLY: Chris, yes, this is common. People often use the ferment as only a part of the recipe, cook it down with other ingredients, then cool and bottle it. It’s a great way to make hot sauce. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  73. Hi just tried fermenting some chillies. I used a bowl with a porous cloth over the top, it’s been a week now and the mash has a white buildup on one side and smells rather like beer.

    I presume I have to put this batch down to experience and start again?

    REPLY: Charles, that is most likely kahm yeast, which is not harmful. You can just skim that off. It often happens when temps are a bit warm or when the salt content is low. No worries! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  74. Hey mate, excellent and informative as always. I was wondering do the chillies have to be the same type to work at its best and do they need to be fresh. I have a lot of frozen chillies of mixed types and was thinking of doing a batch but can wait till my overwintered plants start up again once Summer hits the UK

    REPLY: Hey, Andy. You can ferment mixed types of peppers without any issue. I do it all the time. Also, you CAN ferment frozen peppers, though you might need to use a culture starter to get the fermenting process going. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  75. Hi Mike
    Loving the recipes and tips. I am doing my first batch of fermenting with brine and 3 days in my liquid is at the bottom instead of the top…should I be worried?

    REPLY: Thanks, Imogene! Your peppers definitely need to stay submerged beneath the liquid. Push the peppers down beneath the brine, or use a glass weight or even a cabbage leaf to weigh the peppers down. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  76. I make hot sauce like the Tobasco Indians still do in the villages. Stem and wash the peppers, chop fine, pack into jars and put something in the jar to keep the peppers from floating. Cover with clean cloth to keep out the insects and curious hands. If fermented in the heat (80+ degrees), it needs no salt. When it’s done, use a sieve to strain out the sauce and keep the seeds and skins as pepper relish. If it’s too vinegary (the sugars in the peppers will convert to pepper vinegar) it can be cut with tomato juice. A variant of this is to ferment it in an airless environment so it never turns acidic. AKA Vino del Diablo. It should hit 6% alcohol if you’re into wine, and it’s great for cooking.

  77. Hi, I have mashed my chili’s and mixed in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt with pound ofchili as per your instructions and put in airtight jar, burped it everyday, but there is no brine forming and after week there is a lot of mould on chili’s. Must I throw away. What went wrong?

    REPLY: Jooste, if there is a lot of mold, you may need to toss and try the wet brine method. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  78. Hello,
    If using the 1tsp salt/lb method and making the brine with the pepper juices, what to do if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid from the peppers themselves? Does it take a few days for all the liquid to rise to the top to cover them? After processing and adding the salt (to 4lbs jalapeno peppers), there isn’t enough juice coming out to keep the mash under the brine. Can I add water and adjust the salt at this point? (That is, the 1 quart water, then 1 & 3/4 tbsp salt, considering the 4 tsp already added).
    Thanks for your time!

    REPLY: Grace, I would add them to a properly salty brine solution to control the environment, yes. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  79. What is a starter culture?

    REPLY: Mark, they are fermentation starters – microorganism that help start the fermentation process. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  80. After 2 weeks I have a small amount of what I can only describe as cotton wool mould on the top of the fermented mash. Should I throw it away?

    REPLY: Paul, if there is that much growth on top of your ferment, sadly, I would toss it. A small film is normal, but not that much. Perhaps your peppers weren’t entirely under the brine? — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  81. After about two weeks of fermenting, a white, crusty film forms on the top of the pepper mash. Is this an indication that the mash has gone bad? Should I scrape it off and use it anyway? I’ve kept the mash under brine for the entire time. What’s the story on the white crust?

    REPLY: Joe, usually that is a yeast growth called kahm yeast. Kahm yeast isn’t harmful, though it may have an odd smell. You should skim if off to avoid the smell affecting the peppers, though a little bit in the jar is OK. It isn’t harmful. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  82. Thanks for the great site! So… I processed about 1.5 lbs mixed peppers (3/4, 1/4 banana), mixed with salt, jarred and pushed out any air. Waited for liquid to rise. After a day, nothing had happened, still a solid mash. So I decided to add brine, thinking that would create the liquid needed at the top. 12 hrs later, and there is liquid, but it’s at the bottom! I’ve pushed the mash downward again, but still no liquid at the top. As long as it all stays moist, am I good to go? Thanks!

    REPLY: Cindy, yes, as long as the peppers are under the brine. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  83. I’m new to this!
    My newly-planted garden yielded a beautiful single ghost pepper. (woo hoo!)
    A friend suggested making a fermented pepper mash.
    Can you do that with a single pepper?

    Phrased differently: Any suggestions for what to do witha single ghost pepper, to be able to show off its awesomeness?

    REPLY: DougT, I’ve never fermented a single pepper before, though you may be able to. If you want to make a sauce, I suggest pairing it with other peppers, like habaneros or even milder peppers. You’ll still get plenty of heat. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  84. Chris Chaulk

    Hello going to try my first take at fermenting peppers which are frozen. Do I need a starter culture and what should I use? Thank you.

    REPLY: Chris, if starting from frozen, you might need to use a starter culture, yes. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  85. Carolynn Angle

    whats the ratio for a proper salt brine ferment? i’m going to process different peppers in 50# batches.

    REPLY: Carolynn, use 3 tablespoons sea salt per 1 quart unchlorinated water. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  86. Hey I like to smoke my peppers first do you think this would affect fermentation.?

    REPLY: Gord, yes, you can ferment smoked peppers, but you may need to use a culture starter to get the process going, depending on your smoking method. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  87. great site txs
    I froze down approx 30 jalapenos this summer: Just saw previous mention on frozen peppers: do I have to purchase a starter culture or can I use some brine from sauerkraut? Cheers

    REPLY: Lib, if you have a homemade brine, you should be able to use that to start your peppers. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  88. I ended up with only about a half of qt. jar of pepper mash . i added the brine , will that be a problem not having a full jar?

    REPLY: Dan, that will not be a problem. Just be sure to keep it properly sealed and use as needed. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  89. Mike,
    Can you ferment frozen peppers from a previous harvest? Ideally how long should I be letting them ferment? I have a setup with a quart mason jar and a lid with a water/air lock.

    REPLY: Bert, yes, you can ferment frozen peppers, though you may need to use a starter culture to kick start the process once they are thawed. Let me know how it turns out. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  90. I’d like to make a banana and chilli sauce/ketchup. Would I add the bananas at the fermentation stage? I’ve chosen Aji Amarillo chillies by the way.

    REPLY: Martin, I would add the bananas with the ajis, though I’ve never done this personally. Super curious how it turns out for you. Please let me know! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  91. Just discovered your site and I’m loving it! Quick question about salt: the quantity of salt would be different by volume if I were to use coarse, kosher or table salt. I rather not use sea salt. Is it possible to have the quantity of salt by weight?

    REPLY: Louis, I believe this is what you are looking for.

    1 TBS sea salt – 19 grams – .67ounce

    — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  92. How would you do this with dried peppers? If rehydrate first, howto do that? I’m eager to try thus but all my peppers are now dried. Thanks.

    REPLY: Harry, you can ferment peppers with dried pods. Depending on how they were dried, though, you may need to use a starter culture to get the process going. Rehydrating is simple with warm water. Just let them soak an hour or so until they rehydrate. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  93. Mike – you mention using dried peppers. I’ve got a slew of dried peppers that I further powdered from my harvest last year. Would that work for fermenting? I want to try your Louisiana Hot Sauce recipe.

    REPLY: John, you CAN ferment dried peppers, though depending on the drying process, you may need to use a starter culture to get the process started. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  94. I’m waiting for your tabasco-like sauce recipe, step-by-step and the chili pepper types recommendations. I’m sure it would be delicious!

    REPLY: Michael, coming soon, actually! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  95. A handful of years ago, I was given a moderately-sized fermentation pot (7.5 Liters.) I have successfully fermented chile peppers and garlic for the past three years. Fermented chiles are amazing and give a much deeper, rounder flavor. Seems to kick up the heat factor, too. I’m happy to see more information being published regarding chile fermentation–it wasn’t so easy to find info a few years back!

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