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Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Posted by hubris007 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 5, 10 at 18:20

Been doing a lot of reading...a LOT of reading. I want to make sure i am understanding this correctly.

I have a few gallons of pepper sauce brewing. The recipe i followed is nothing but ground fresh peppers with 1 cup/gallon of iodine free salt. I am fermenting in glass carboys with one way vent lids.

Once the bubbling stops, i will strain off the solids, heat the liquid to at least 185 degreesF (10 minutes?) and funnel directly into 5ox woozy bottles. I plan to boil the woozies, and boil dip the lids and dropper tops. If the pH at bottling is 3.6 or lower, that should be safe for shelf storage, right?

I've been sucking down the Tabasco smoked chipotle sauce for years, and it doesn't require refrigeration after opening. Would mine?

Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

From what I understand , if you are worried about botulism it doesn't grow except in an enviornment that is pretty much oxygen free-a sealed bottle etc. and the ph has to be right too.
Botulism spores are everywhere but they are specific on he enviornment they can grow on.
An open bottle probably won't be any problem for botulism but there are other things that could be if conditions are right-salmonilla etc.
I think it all pretty much depends on the PH of the sauce in general.

There was a very long post about fermenting sauce on this site quite a while back that you might be able to search out.

I had it bookmarked but it went away with the smoke from that hard drive...

It was very informative.
Link below might be it...

Here is a link that might be useful: fermented hot sauce


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Thought i'd throw some pics up of the way i'm doing it. Forgot to mention that i do throw a splash or two of store bought kefir in the mix to jump start things.

These are the peppers i used for batch 2.

They sho' are purty..

Ran them through the kitchenaide grinder, added salt and a few blobs of kefir:

placed in the 3 gallon carboy on the right. The 1 gallon on the left is a batch i started 7/24 and i taste tested it today. It has some heat to it but MAN it has some flavor. pH was 3.6 today. :)


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Those pics look awesome!


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

wow, nice.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I'm smoking another bucket of peppers today (first attempt at smoking) and will grind them and add to the larger carboy. I figure, since it's still bubbling, i don't need to add any salt or kefir, as there should be an active colony there which will quickly outcompete any contaminant.

Agree or disagree?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Smoking them in pyrex containers as there are way too many to spread them all out and many are too small to put on a grate. I am hoping to smoke them without drying them out too much, as i plan to grind them up as soon as they are cool and add them to batch 2.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

wow, that almost inspires me to try something similar -
you should put up a pic by pic w/ instructional on what you are doing - it looks awesome. I've read some tutorials, but a picture truly is worth 1000 words.

Danny


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I think I would have just put down aluminum foil and poked a few small holes for the smoke to get better coverage. Something to consider next go around. :-)


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Considered that, but with so many peppers, many of them less than an inch long, i thought it would be a PITA to get the grate off without spilling them when i stoked the smoker.

If i weren't doing so many, i'd probably use a perforated pizza pan.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Compared to the incredible efforts you are going through to make what looks like a truely magnificent hot sauce, I am merely a beginner. However, after reading about botulism, I am now a concerned beginner. At the recomendation of a friend, I took pickling salt, 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of water and brought to a rolling boil. I then poured the mixture over 12 oz of mixed peppers (habs, thai, super chillis, african mounds, cayennes etc..) that were in an old (but clean) tequilla bottle.

Question: Is the vinegar/water solution shelf stable (i.e. can I hide it in a closet for 3 months without worrying) or do I need to put it in the refrigerator?

I also thought about pouring the mixture out, blending it, adding more vinegar, boiling it and bottling a second time but have no real idea what I am doing. Thanks in advance.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

My understanding is the C botulinum is very heat tolerant but not very tolerant of acidic pH. Thus the reason why you will never see a salsa recipe for canning that does not contain vinegar. The pH of tomatoes is just way too high.

Fermented pepper, on the other hand, gets down to a pH of 3.6 or lower as lactic acid is produced. So, the low pH should make it impossible for C botulinum to grow. Boiling prior to bottling in sterilized jars should kill everything else, including the lactobacillus that could otherwise continue producing CO2 and explode the bottles.

The more i research, the more confident i am that this can be cold bottled.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Hi --

I started a batch of fermented sauce on Saturday. Chopped about 1 liter of peppers and put them into a jar with some 5% salt/water brine and a teaspoon or two of kefir. By Sunday morning, the surface of the future sauce had started to discolor -- it was just darker than the rest.

Any reason why this is happening? Is it harmful? I know when you're fermenting whole vegetables, you need to keep them submerged with a weight. I didn't do that with the chopped ones, 'cause it didn't really seem like they would actually stay submerged. Maybe I should put a brine-filled ziploc in there to keep them down?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I am doing mine in carboys, which precludes the use of a weight to press the mash down. So far, i have had good luck turning the bottles to 45 degrees (leaving the gas lock in place)and rolling them to mix them twice daily. Thus, none of it stays above the fluid line for very long. This also allows the trapped bubbles to come out, so there are no areas that dry out due to long term contact with the bubbles. Probably overkill, but that's how i've been doing it and it seems to be working. Perhaps try lightly agitating yours?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Hi there,
First of all, 007, those pics look amazing. I've been doing some serious research of late on proper fermenting etc. but never gave much thought to the "final" steps I'll need for my sauce.

I've started with a 20 Degree Salometer (5.3%) Brine [20 Degrees Salometer (Morton�s Kosher Salt) = 11.56 tsp / 4 cups water], a bit of Kefir for the fermentation and all my varied peppers/additions. Put everything into a number of quart jars, weighted and sealed with standard Ball Jar lids. Not too tight, to let some gasses escape. I like the carboy vent lids though!

Do you have a pH meter for testing your brine? I haven't gotten into it, but I wonder if I need to purchase one.

Also - why are you cooking your final liquid? I haven't seen that finishing step anywhere yet (for fermented peppers).

My plan is to strain the liquid and reserve. Food process the mash, drain liquid into the reserved liquid, taste, adjust where necessary and bottle... no good, you think?

re: mash at the surface of the brine - I heard exposed peppers can grow mold (which is very pH tolerant) - may not be toxic, but creates "off" flavors.

I can't comment on how the turning process will affect that, but I hope it works out!!


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Hey hubris007, if you don't mind me asking - what are those yellow pumpkin-shaped peppers? I was doing some looking around to see if I could figure it out, but haven't had much luck with that. Thanks!


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

[quote]
Fermented pepper, on the other hand, gets down to a pH of 3.6 or lower as lactic acid is produced.
[end quote]

Not true. Every ferment is different. many if not most ferments will not get low enough. Many ferments may get stuck which is dangerous. You should add vinegar after fermenting anyway. vinegar is very low cost. Commercial hot sauce uses vinegar because that is the safe easy fast way to make hot sauce. When push comes to shove. The fast easy way to make hot sauce is to use vinegar. Another advantage of vinegar is you can make it with no salt at all. salt does not preserve. vinegar preserves. Also vinegar immediately kills off all spoilage bacteria. With fermentation you can end the ferment with more than half spoilage bacteria still in the ferment. You can estimate the percent spoilage bacteria if you have a good microscope.

just boil in vinegar. let cool. grind up in blender and bottle up.

The reason for boiling is to soften up the peppers so they grind up well. You can also age in vinegar to soften them up for grinding.

I like to run through a food processor first then add vinegar to cover the mash and boil then blender then bottle. all done quickly in one short afternoon with no salt. Why bother fermenting when you should add vinegar after fermenting anyway to make sure the pH is low. Vinegar is also used to cut the heat.

For example Tabasco ferments but then adds about 3X vinegar to cut the heat and salt before bottling and selling it. All a waste of time and energy.

Read the lables on hot sauce bottles. They all use vinegar.

Fermented hot sauce is not safe just because it was fermented. In fact most will not be safe.

fermentation is very complex. It does not work like people think. for example spoilage bacteria grow while LAB grow. the spoilage can be half the bacteria or all the bacteria. You can have spoilage in one part of the ferment while another part can be going better. With vinegar the spoilage bacteria are immediately killed off. Why allow spoilage bacteria to grow. Vinegar is the safe way to go.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Sorry for the slow reponse on this thread. Real life has been getting in the way. Here are some replies to some of the posts...

"You should add vinegar after fermenting anyway."
- Why add it if it's not necessary? Vinegar is not the taste I'm after, fermented pepper is.

"vinegar is very low cost."
- Cost is not a factor for me when it comes to hot sauce.

"Commercial hot sauce uses vinegar because that is the safe easy fast way to make hot sauce. When push comes to shove. The fast easy way to make hot sauce is to use vinegar." "For example Tabasco ferments but then adds about 3X vinegar to cut the heat and salt before bottling and selling it. All a waste of time and energy.
Read the lables on hot sauce bottles. They all use vinegar."

- Actually, they add vinegar mostly because it is cheap and it greatly increases their yield (while greatly diminishing the quality of their product, IMHO). If you have never had pure, fermented pepper sauce that hasn't had it's flavor spoiled by vinegar, you don't know what you are missing.

"Another advantage of vinegar is you can make it with no salt at all. salt does not preserve. vinegar preserves. Also vinegar immediately kills off all spoilage bacteria. With fermentation you can end the ferment with more than half spoilage bacteria still in the ferment. You can estimate the percent spoilage bacteria if you have a good microscope."
- I would like to see your sources on this.

"just boil in vinegar. let cool. grind up in blender and bottle up.The reason for boiling is to soften up the peppers so they grind up well. You can also age in vinegar to soften them up for grinding."
- A)The point of fermenting is that the process of lacto-fermentation actually changes the flavor of the peppers. Saying you can make a fermented pepper sauce without fermenting is like saying you can make sauerkraut by just shredding up some cabbage and putting it in vinegar.
- B) If you course grind the peppers and ferment them, you can remove the skin and seeds by running it through a food mill and a strainer.

"I like to run through a food processor first then add vinegar to cover the mash and boil then blender then bottle. all done quickly in one short afternoon with no salt."
- I think the real problem here is that we are talking about two vastly different types of sauces. I'm not interested in making quick pickled sauce, I'm attempting a fermented sauce. That can't be done in an afternoon.

"Why bother fermenting when you should add vinegar after fermenting anyway to make sure the pH is low."
- I have yet to read anywhere that the pH for storage needs to be below the 3.6 that I am consistently achieving with fermentation alone.

"Vinegar is also used to cut the heat."
- I find adding some milder peppers or fruits such as apples and papaya works just as well without spoiling the flavor.

"Fermented hot sauce is not safe just because it was fermented."
- It is not unsafe just bacause it is fermented, either.

"In fact most will not be safe."
- I think this is baseless hyperbole, but would love to see your source.

"fermentation is very complex."
- Yup.

"It does not work like people think."
- Um...actually, I think there's a fair amount of scientific evidence to the contrary.

"for example spoilage bacteria grow while LAB grow. the spoilage can be half the bacteria or all the bacteria. You can have spoilage in one part of the ferment while another part can be going better. With vinegar the spoilage bacteria are immediately killed off. Why allow spoilage bacteria to grow. Vinegar is the safe way to go."
- Actually, salt will inhibit many spoilage bacteria. The addition of kefir greatly increases the initial population of lactobacillus. When done correctly, this population will rapidly outcompete the remaining spoilage bacteria.
----

"what are those yellow pumpkin-shaped peppers? I was doing some looking around to see if I could figure it out, but haven't had much luck with that."
- Beats the heck out of me. I think the P1 came in a mixed seed packet. I always figured them for scotch bonnets. They're moderately fleshy and have a fair kick to them.
---

"Do you have a pH meter for testing your brine? I haven't gotten into it, but I wonder if I need to purchase one."
- I've been using pH test strips that measure 2.8-4.4. I take about a ml of the liquid and put it in a centrifuge for a couple minutes to get rid of the solids, but that's not really necessary. I also test it again at the time of bottling just to make certain.

"why are you cooking your final liquid? I haven't seen that finishing step anywhere yet (for fermented peppers). "
- I boil it to make certain it will not continue to ferment once bottled. I'm not so sure allowing gas production to continue once bottled would be a good idea. Also, since I couldn't find any information anywhere on how to safely bottle this, I went with the old school "Cook the bottle, cook the lid, cook the liquid" mantra.

---

So, I allowed the mash to ferment for about 4 months. After about a month, the mash had broken down enough that there was consistently liquid on the surface, thus reducing the need for so much turning. I tested the liquid and it came back as pH 3.6. I ran the fermented mash through a foley food mill and strained off the liquid. I boiled the liquid and put it in boiled 5oz Woozies. Boiled dropper tops were put in place and boiled tops were put on. Just for show, i went ahead and shrink wrapped them and labeled them.

Hasn't killed me yet, so I must be doing something right. Still have another 7 gallons fermenting, too. Gonna need to buy more bottles.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

This year I made it just like "Gardendawgie' said and everyone loved it! But I have been real interested in making a fermented sauce like 'Hubris007' is doing . Do you think thatI could take some of the sauce I made and try to make a fermented sauce with that?
If your fermented sauce doesn't reach a PH reading of 3.6 ,what do you do ? add vinegar?
Thanks
Gene


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

"If your fermented sauce doesn't reach a PH reading of 3.6 ,what do you do ? add vinegar? "

- Yup, most likely i would add vinegar to lower the pH if it was close. If it was way off, I'd really have to consider pitching it.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

thx for the update hubris,
i have a liter still fermenting, what made you decide to bottle now ?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

"what made you decide to bottle now ?"

- Relatively inexpensive, home made Christmas presents. ;-)

The first ones i started back in july looked good and mushy, and i kind of just wanted to know how they had turned out. Damn fine, IMHO.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Those sure are lucky folks on your gift list. I think you really put together a class act. They look wonderful!


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Thank you, i like to think so.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Just finished bottling up batch 3. Actually felt comfortable marking this one as hot. For anyone that was wondering, that subtle lemon flavor of ghost peppers becomes even better after smoking and fermenting.

Now i only have one carboy fermenting. Granted, it's five gallons and contains all the peppers left on the plant at the end of the years, so however it turns out, it won't be reproducible. dang, need to order more bottles.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Only 5 GALLons heeh sweet
do u smoke all these before fermenting ?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

nah, this last batch it just what was left on the plants when i cleaned out the garden. Didn't bother to smoke them, because i was very ready to be done with the garden for the year.

The second batch that i made is by far my favorite of this year's attempts. I'm going to have to go back and look at pics to see what the heck i put in it. I know it was cherry smoked peppers, onion, garlic, apples, papaya, kefir and salt. Just need to figure out how much to see if i can reporduce it next year in a larger quantity.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I have been searching everywhere for the right ratio of salt to peppers to ferment. All I have is 1/2cup salt to 1 gallon of peppers, what if you are buying the peppers buy the pound how much salt would you use.


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Question regarding final steps.

First time fermenting hot pepper mash. I have four batches working, all are doing fine. I have a question regarding the final steps in the process.

So lets say the batches have fermented well, look good, and have tested out at the proper ph and are ready to finish and bottle. Do I use all the contents of the jar and run it all through the processor prior to straining, boiling, and bottling? Or do I siphon off the clearish liquid that settles out in the jar and dispose of that liquid prior to final processing?

Thanks.
-Tom


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Maybe I'm slow witted, I don't know... but I read this thread and I just cannot get the exact answer I'm looking for...

Under the following process, can I safely bottle without heat treating or cooking the sauce using sterilized bottles?

1) Pepper mash fermented with salt and enough saltwater to cover and air lock lid
2) Mash put through food mill and vinegar added
3) Bulk refrigerator aged for 2-3 months.
4) Bottling COLD/never cooked sauce/no heat applied even at closing/shrink seal bottles.

Please no "knee-jerk" reactions, I have test batches that are 1-2 years old now bottled and shelf-kept. Sauce definitely needs shaking (no xanthan gum) but the flavor is awesome.


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I'll apply a knee-jerk answer just to bounce this thread to the top where e.g. ajsmama can get at it.

It depends on the pH. If the pH is low enough (acidic) then yes you can bottle cold. However, sterilizing the bottles is a no-brainer. Just boil them in a bucket.

Experts?

Dennis


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

No expert here... I look around for others advice..

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web Hot Pepper Forum Thread Pepper Mash - Is it ok?


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

Seems Ph level important according to the experts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web Thread - Aged Pepper Mash


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RE: Bottling fermented pepper sauce.

I know this is an old thread but I am getting ready to ferment some pepper sauce and I have a question or ten. I know botulism toxin can be formed in an anaerobic environment within 24 hours. Because of this, wouldn’t the ph have to be below 4.2 within the first 24 hours? The pH at the end of the ferment is meaningless if it took weeks to get below 4.2. How do you take the pH at 24 hours without messing up the ferment?


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