Homemade: Fermented Hot Sauce

Traditionally, hot pepper sauces have been made by fermenting a mash of chopped up peppers. Many of the world’s best known and most loved hot sauces are lacto-fermented before bottling, including Tabasco and sriracha. For the last few years I have had a lot of fun making my own hot sauces. Once you understand the basics, it’s easy to do and a great way to preserve the flavor of homegrown peppers. It’s also fun to experiment and make your own one-of-a-kind sauces. Like my Hot Happy Yummy Sriracha, for instance.

ripe orange Hot Happy Yummy peppers

ripe orange Hot Happy Yummy peppers

Since discovering the rogue pepper I am currently calling Hot Happy Yummy back in 2009, I have found a lot of different uses for it. And my favorite one is making hot sauce. Last week I used some of these ripe orange peppers plus some of our homegrown garlic to make my Homemade Sriracha Style Hot Sauce. This sauce ferments for about four days before you cook it briefly, strain it, and bottle. I love Sriracha sauce, and I’ll make some more when I have enough red ripe jalapenos for a batch.

Hot Happy Yummy Sriracha Sauce fermenting

Hot Happy Yummy Sriracha Sauce fermenting

Next I started two batches of Basic Fermented Hot Sauce. This recipe calls for peppers, salt, and time. You can let it ferment anywhere from one to four weeks, or even longer if you have the patience. I made one batch with red ripe Aji Angelo peppers. This Capsicum baccatum variety has a unique flavor and medium heat, and I thought it would make a great tasting hot sauce. I like to remove the stem but leave the green ‘cap’ on the peppers before chopping them up. It is said to add a little extra flavor to the finished hot sauce.

ripe Aji Angelo pepper with green cap

ripe Aji Angelo pepper with green cap

For the other batch I used a mix of ripe cayenne and serrano peppers. I let both batches ferment on the kitchen counter for nine days before I added the vinegar then strained and bottled them. I press on the strainer with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much of the juice as I can. With these two sauces I got almost five ounces each. If you like your sauce thicker, you can blend it up in the blender without straining or if you like it chunky then bottle it up without straining or blending. It’s all good, and the best thing is you get to make it exactly like you like it!

pressing pepper mash to get all the juice out

pressing pepper mash to get all the juice out

You can use any variety of peppers you have on hand, from mild to extra hot, and everything in between. The orange Sriracha proves you don’t have to use red peppers either. I made a Green Jalapeno Sauce back in 2012. And I’m going to try and make one this year with red, orange and yellow C. chinense peppers that are milder versions of the hot Habeneros. The possibilities are endless. And you don’t need to grow your own peppers either. You can often find all different kinds of hot peppers at farmer’s markets or at ethnic grocery stores.

bottling the hot sauce

bottling the hot sauce

The fermented hot sauces keep for a long time in the refrigerator. The folks who make Tabasco say their red sauce keeps for 5 years whether opened or unopened, refrigerated or not, but that it is “best by” the third year. As a matter of preference I like to keep my hot sauces refrigerated, and use them within one year of making. And what do I use them for? They go on and in lots of things, from baked potatoes and barbeque sauce to scrambled eggs and frittatas. You can see the three hot sauces I made all bottled up in the below photo, along with the lovely labels my wife made for me! I left the middle one unlabeled so you can see the pretty red color of the hot sauce inside.

bottled homemade hot sauces

bottled homemade hot sauces

Homemade hot sauces make great gifts for family and friends too. The basic recipes can easily be scaled up to make extra for giving away. Whether you like your hot sauce mild or prefer it to be mouth-blistering hot, making your own is a fun way to be creative with peppers. So how about you all, have you ever made your own hot sauce? Or perhaps you will give it a try after reading this. Either way, let me know – I’d love to hear about it!

For more information on making your own hot sauces:

  1. Homemade Sriracha Style Hot Sauce
  2. Basic Fermented Hot Sauce
  3. Have Fun, Save Money: Make Your Own Hot Sauce (Mother Earth News)
  4. Fermented Hot Chili Sauce Recipe (Nourished Kitchen)
  5. Sriracha Chili Sauce Recipe (Viet World Kitchen)


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12 Responses to Homemade: Fermented Hot Sauce

  1. Daphne says:

    I used to make hot sauce years ago when I could eat peppers. One of my favorites was the end of the year mixed batch. I’d just pick any of the chilies that were green before the first frost and make it with whatever I had on hand and I would add garlic. I love garlic in hot sauces.

  2. Michelle says:

    Making my own hot sauce always sounds like such a great idea, but somehow it turns into one of those items that gets lost in the refrigerator, like pickles, part of my fridge is a black hole for pickles and hot sauce. Out of sight out of mind I guess, we just don’t seem to get around to consuming those things. There’s still a batch of Hot Happy Yummy sauce knocking around in there from last year. I do a much better job of using up dried pepper flakes so that’s what I turn to when I want to spice things up.

  3. Sarah C. says:

    I am absolutely going to try this. The small bottles of Tapatio and Cholula just don’t last very long in our house and I would love to experiment with different hot sauces. Thanks for linking to recipes you have used before – I will use those as starting place.

    My Aji Limon is finally starting to produce little peppers, I am hoping I have enough to do a batch with those!

  4. Susan Klein says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for the great post. I have a question about canning the homemade ketchup. I prepared tomatoes into a sauce, no spices…just cooked down and then puréed in the blender. Then I removed the skins and seeds that were left in the mixture. I didn’t have time to do anything else, so I just put it in the fridge. It’s been a few days. Can I bring this back up to a boil and the make the ketchup and can it in a water bath? Suggestions? Thank you!

  5. Margaret says:

    Another fantastic post! I would love to make hot sauce at some point. We always have at least 2 or 3 bottles in the fridge & I just discovered sriracha this past year – can’t get enough of it. This is another in a long string of food items that it never really occurred to me that I would be able to make myself.

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  7. mmmmm, between your paprika post and now this one, you’ve inspired me to plant more variety of peppers next year! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Simple Lives Thursday; we hope to see you again this week.

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  9. bavaria says:

    Great post. A kitchen tool that you might like is the Oxo food mill. It makes straining out seeds and skins from produce a breeze. I’ve had mine for 5 years now and love it!

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