Q: Dear Dave,
I’m looking for a method to ferment ground sweet-to-medium red peppers in salt. When fermented, the stuff is stored in bottles with a bit of olive oil poured over the top. I tasted this in a Portuguese household here in Canada–the people who make it (and use it in everything) came to Canada from the Azores, so it is not a Brazilian malagueta sauce I’m seeking.
I hope you can help,
A: Hello Emelie:
I have searched the Internet high and low, plus my own cookbooks, and have not found a recipe that matches your description. Basically, what you describe is called pepper mash, the precursor to many hot sauces. Here is the typical method: Peppers are pounded into pulp in a hammer mill and then placed in containers such as wooden kegs or plastic barrels. Then about 6 to 10 percent salt by weight is added and the mixture is stirred. Fermentation takes place and the salt preserves the mash, which is then aged for six months to three years. To make a sauce, the mash is diluted with vinegar, spices are sometimes added, and the mixture is strained. I have not tried doing this at home, but you’d think that a food processor, table salt, and a strong, vented container would work. There are hundreds of types of fermentation, so I’m not precisely certain what is happening chemically with pepper fermentation. But it’s a good guess that carbon dioxide is being produced, hence the need for venting. For more information, see "How to Make Hot Sauces" at http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/hotsauce.html–Dave