If you’re growing hot peppers in your garden this year, you’re likely swimming in them at this point. Here is yet another super simple way to preserve them this fall: fermented jalapeños!
This recipe is written for jalapeños, but any hot pepper of your choice will suffice.
Yield: 1 pint jar
- 2 cups jalapeños, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 grape leaf or other leaf with tannins (optional, helps to keep the pepper slices crunchy). See “side notes” for more info on leaves with tannins.
- (For the brine) 2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, dissolved in 1 cup water
Add the garlic to the bottom of a clean pint canning jar and tuck the grape leaf on the side of the jar. Pack the jar with the sliced jalapeños while being mindful not to crush or damage the slices.
Leave 1 1/2 inch of headspace (room from the top of the peppers to the rim of the jar).
Once the jar is filled, mix up the brine. Pour the brine over the peppers until they are completely submerged by at least 1/4 inch of brine. If you have a small fermentation jar weight, add it to the jar to hold down the slices under the brine.
Remove any small pieces of food (or seeds) that float up to the top of the brine. (Produce above the brine will increase the risk of the ferment spoiling.) Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean dampened towel. Add the canning jar lid and tightly screw on the ring.
This is a five-day ferment. Ferment at room temperature, ideally between 60 to 75 degrees F (15-23 degrees C) and keep out of direct sunlight.
Check on the ferment daily to make sure that the brine covers all the produce. If the produce has floated above the brine level, use a clean utensil to push it back below the brine.
Burp the jar daily. Unscrew the lid briefly and tighten it back on to allow any built-up gas to release. (You’ll also avoid possible jar breakage and the ferment overflowing).
After five days of fermentation, taste test a jalapeño slice and see if it has the garlicky, tangy, fermented flavor that it should have once your jalapeños have fermented. If it tastes too much like a jalapeño in the raw form, replace the lid and ring and allow it to ferment another couple days and taste test again.
Once the ferment has reached an ideal flavor, transfer the jar into the refrigerator, with the brine and all.
Fermentation does not stop once the ferment is transferred to the refrigerator. However it does slow the process way down. The taste and texture will continue to change, therefore this ferment is best enjoyed within six months.
If you do not have a glass jar weight, you can improvise by using an easily removable small food-grade glass dish that fits inside the jar. Or, if you have a smaller glass canning jar that can fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting with, you can use that to keep the produce pushed under the brine.
More about tannins: If you do not have access to grape, oak or raspberry leaves, you can also use horseradish leaves or bay leaves. The flavor from the leaves, however, will alter the flavor of the fermented pickle. If you do not have access to fresh leaves with tannins, you can make the recipe without them. However, expect that the pickle could be less crunchy after fermentation.
If you are unsure if your water is safe for fermentation, you can boil it and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the salt to make your brine.
The brine will turn cloudy during fermentation. It’s also likely you will see white sediment on the pickles and at the bottom of the jar. This is completely normal and a sign that your fermented jalapeños are proceeding as they should.
This recipe has been adapted from WECK Home Preserving with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.