Making fermented pepper mashes from this summer’s pods
I had a few cayenne plants this year that gave me some pods that I want to make into a fermented mash. If you recall the first mash I made from early growth pods earlier in the year went marvelously well, but the final product was too salty because I was a moron and re-salted the sauce after I’d forgot the mash already had a high salt content. I had a lot of cayenne peppers before the frosts hit, a few jalapeños, and a slew of Trinidad 7-pots (yellow and red). For all these plants I waited until the pods were fully ripened before picking. Since they all ripen at different intervals, I went ahead and threw them in a freezer bag as I picked them to preserve the pods. Water makes up over 90 percent of the weight of most produce and is held within the fairly rigid cell walls that give support, structure and texture to the fruit or vegetable. Freezing fruits and vegetables actually consists of freezing the water contained in the plant cell. When the water freezes, it expands, and the ice crystals cause the cell walls to rupture. The texture of the thawed produce will be much softer than it was when raw., but since these were going into a salt mash to undergo lactic acid fermentation anyway, I don’t care if their firm texture holds up. So into the freezer they go!
Since cayennes were the dominating variety, I decided to make one jar of mash out of purely cayennes, and another jar w/ mixed reds. The peppers were de-stemmed, and thrown into a blender with a splash of water. Since Cayennes are very thin pods with not a lot of water and flesh, you have to help them along a bit by adding water in the blender. I didn’t bother de-seeding them because this will come later when the mash is made into hot sauce. After I puree’d the cayennes, I scraped them into a jar and covered w/ 2 TBSP of kosher salt. I put the lid on loosely so any CO2 created by the fermentation could escape. I didn’t add any lactobacillus starter like yogurt cultures as I want to see if I can get this one to spontaneously ferment. In fact, I think I’ll probably need to remove the lid for a day or so to help this along and simply cover with a cheese cloth before adding the lid back on.
The 2nd mash I made, I used the residual cayenne puree from the blender, but also added red Jalapeño and red Trinidad 7-pot peppers to the mix. I removed the seeds from the 7-pots, so this mash doesn’t have as many seeds as the cayenne mash. This is going to be an odd blend, but we’ll see how it comes out. This time I didn’t have to add any water to the mix since the jalapeños and 7-pots were sufficiently juicy to make the puree the right consistency. I did however add about a teaspoon of bhut jolokia mash as a starter to this mix… because fuck it why not? Again I covered the top of the mash w/ 2 TBSP of kosher salt and put the lid on gently.
These mashes will take about 2 months to complete fermentation, so we’ll check back on them around St. Patty’s day to see how they’re doing. With any luck, I’ll have a couple jars of usable mash I can use for some hot sauces to kick up my Proper Irish Breakfast™ on St. Patty’s day. In the mean time, I’ll probably just give them a quick stir every week or so, but that’s it.