Fermenting your own Hot Sauce

The start of this project is a simple one you need only three ingredients and a few household items. One item I needed to purchase was the small crock. I found a small crock that would usually hold tools for cooking at a local Kitchen or Hardware store.

Tools you will need

1 small crock
1 small cloth kitchen towel
1 rubber band
1 small tea plate
1 item to weight down the plate


Hot peppers
5% Distilled  Vinegar
Sea Salt/ Kosher Salt

This is a very simple process but a few things you need to do. Glove up cutting hot peppers and working with them will make your fingers hot and trust me you DO NOT want to rub your eye or lick your fingers after prepping hot peppers. Been there done that ! Oh why you ask well the peppers have Capsaicin and you do not want this on your skin or in your eye's.

Let us talk salt. Sea Salt is the best to use but you can get away with Kosher Salt. The measurement of salt to peppers is not an exact science but from most of my research it is really easy.  Either way to measure the amount of salt you use is a 30 to 1 ratio or 1 teaspoon of salt for every two cups of boiled water cooled down. Your brine must be cooled. Make a cup or two of additional brine and have it ready just in case your peppers do not give you enough liquid. If you do it now it will be cooled when you are at the last step.

Now let us talk about the vinegar. There are a few recipes that call out for the fancy vinegars but if you want good ole' school hot sauce stick with plain 5% distilled vinegar. Get creative once you have made a simple original sauce. Vinegar to be put into the crock at the start of fermenting? Some recipes call out for this personally I do not do this. My fermenting is just peppers, salt and water.  I have done a lot of fermenting and it never called out for vinegar when starting out. Even my sauerkraut did not get it till bath time. So I would not add it until it is time. So you know we add the vinegar the last week of fermentation.

Buy enough pepper to half fill your crock. Clean your peppers and slice the stem off. Cut the peppers in half . You can leave the seeds in or take them out if you want to reduce the amount of heat. The seeds are full of heat. I leave them in I like true hot sauce.

Once your peppers are cut you need to chop them. The simplest way is to use a food processor. If you have not got one just finely hand chop. The end process is the same.

They are just perfect. Once they are chopped put them into the little crock. What you are doing here is extracting the liquid in the peppers. The fresher the pepper the better the sauce.

Once the peppers are in the crock or container you use, it is time to add the salt. The salt does two things. It extracts the water from the peppers and it creates a better flavor. Just sprinkle the peppers with salt like if you were to be eating them. Once you have added the salt you need to mush the peppers down. What you are trying to do is make sure the peppers are covered by the brine/liquid.

Let me explain the brine must cover the peppers it will prevent it from being exposed to the air. You may not get enough liquid to cover and that is why we have a cup or two of extra brine. I like my brine to cover by about an inch or so.

The small plate to cover the peppers

As you can see here in my pictures I have used a small tea plate to cover the peppers. It fit the crock perfect.

The plate on top of the peppers
A small object to weigh the plate down

In this picture it is just sitting on top of the peppers.You want the brine to be higher than the plate. The brine is the active ingredient that keep's your peppers from spoiling.

Here the brine is covered and a small bowl is placed on top of the plate to weigh it down. Now we will let the pepper's ferment.

Now we will let the pepper's ferment. Store the crock in a standard room temperature. Not to hot not to cool. It will need a month or so to get started. Check it each week to make sure the brine is covering it. But do not take the weight off for a least three weeks.

I will give you the next step in our next Hot Sauce Post. Good Luck and email me any questions to canarella@sbcglobal.net. Also because I will not dedicate a whole post to this you will be soaking you pepper mash in vinegar one week prior to bottling.

Here is a link to Part 2 of our Hot Sauce Adventure

Here is a link to the Tabasco History it is a long story so get a drink! Also The Joy Kitchen was interesting and another reliable site I found and easy to understand was Kitchen Garden International .

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.  


  1. A quick question: will the stuff above the plate be discarded? Or is it okay to use because the crock is also covered by the towel? My husband likes hot sauce, so I thought I'd give this a try.

  2. Hi Susanne. The stuff above the plate being the brine. Liquid is not discarded only the muck. The white icky stuff goes. Here is a link to the second step it shows the brine after I scraped stuff off ( http://canarella.blogspot.com/2013/10/homemade-tabascohot-sauce-week-8.html) and you will see some stuff still floating. It is ok bacteria is not always a bad thing. How to you think our Eastern friends live so long fermentation my friend fermentation! xoxo email me if you need more answer's canarella@sbcglobal.net

  3. Thanks, Lani! I'll now check out the second post.


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