After spending the last two months making batch after batch of fermented jalapenos, I can confidently report the following: it’s easy, inexpensive and ridiculously fun. This post is the first in a series – other posts will follow with particulars. The purpose of this series is two-fold: it will record what I did this season with hot peppers, and it might convince you lovely peeps to start your own batches of fermented jalapenos before the season’s caput. Ready?
- Fermenting jalapenos is easy and inexpensive.
The materials are cheap and the process is simple. If you have a jar and some sea salt in your pantry (and really I hope you do, my pets), you can make a quart of fermented jalapenos for about $3.00. Other than the jar, the only other necessary bit of equipment is a sharp knife and a cutting board. Rubber gloves are a good idea, too. The process itself, the details of which will be described in subsequent posts, is soooooo simple that anyone can master it quickly.
- Time is on yr side.
Other than taking a squint at the jar once or twice a day to check for brine level and mold, it doesn’t take much to monitor fermenting peppers. The bulk of your time will be spent prepping the peppers before and after the active fermentation period, and if you stick with reasonable volumes that prep time will be minimal. The period of active fermentation depends on the temperature of your kitchen, your desired product, and acts of G-d. In hot weather your ferments will mature VERY quickly; cooler weather results in longer fermentation periods. If you want fermented jalapenos that are crisp and taste fresh and brightly hot, then you’ll want to keep the fermentation period short. If you want a mash or sauce that tastes deeply umami, you’ll want to ferment the peppers longer. If you’re aiming for crisp peppers but Ma Nature throws you an unexpectedly warm day and your ferment goes wild, then make hot sauce instead. It’s all good no matter WHAT.
- Dry salting vs brining.
This season I experimented with brine fermentation, which is the process I now prefer to use when peppers are ripe and mature, and therefore have drier flesh. At the beginning of the season, when peppers were young and juicy, I dry-salt fermented ‘em. For the in-between season, I used a hybrid approach: the peppers were dry salted and the resulting ferments were jarred up and topped with a bit of basic brine, as necessary. More than any other references, this season I’ve turned to Katz’s Art of Fermentation for dry salt instructions and to Kirsten & Christopher Shockey’s Fermented Vegetables for brine recipes.
- Fermenting is fun.
It’s fun to ferment things! Besides the pure joy of eating homemade things that are both yummy and good for you, the process of fermentation is nothing short of magical. There are bubbles involved – how can you not be happy if there are bubbles involved? Also (ahem): there are bragging rights to be earned.
My next few posts will describe the different types of jalapenos ferments I made this season: sliced, pureed, and filtered hot sauce. There will be asides about brined mixed-vegetable ferments, brined green beans, and dry-salted eggplant, because I can, and I did, so I will. Perhaps I will describe brined tofu, of which I am quite fond… I will share some tips on putting up the ferments. And I’m VERY sure there’ll be something about Bloody Marys and lazy-woman’s salsa, which means we should chat a little about tomatoes, too. Oh, isn’t life grand???
And on that happy note, that’s it for this post, my pets. Until next time and very fondly – yr little munakins.