Need some sweet pepper recipe ideas? Try making this lacto-fermented sweet pepper recipe that’s a cross between a paste and a sauce. Naturally fermented with salt, it makes a delicious addition to homemade sandwiches or even just cheese and bread!
The idea of fermenting sweet peppers had never crossed my mind, until I grew too many in the garden one year.
I had baskets of both yellow and orange sweet peppers sitting around my kitchen, and I didn’t know what to do with them. You can only eat so many fresh and there’s only so many ways to cook with sweet peppers. I use them in my home canned salsa but again, it only requires so many.
I’m not a fan of frozen sweet peppers and I didn’t want to throw them out, because I don’t like wasting food I grew myself (though it does sometimes happen). What’s a girl to do?
And then I thought about the book my sister-in-law had just gifted to me: Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. Could you somehow ferment sweet peppers?
When I cracked open the book, I found several simple recipes that called for fermented sweet peppers. I felt skeptical (mushy fermented peppers, anyone?). But with too many of these brightly-colored vegetables on hand, I had nothing to lose.
So I tried making a simple batch of chunky fermented sweet pepper sauce. The recipe only required 2 ingredients and was very simple to make.
After my first taste, I knew I’d found something special! If you like traditionally fermented foods, I think you’ll enjoy this easy sweet pepper sauce recipe.
Items You’ll Need
- cutting board
- small kitchen knife
- kitchen blender or food processor
- pint (500 ml) mason jar
- a lid
- 12 oz (340 gm) sweet peppers
- 1 teaspoon salt
Tips for Fermenting
Ferment In Cooler Temperatures
This chunky fermented sweet pepper sauce has the best texture when it is fermented in cooler temperatures. Peppers will go soft much faster if your home is hot (above 70F or 24C). Because of this, I recommend making this sauce with sweet peppers you harvest at the end of the year. And if that isn’t an option? Cut the fermenting time in half and refrigerate sooner to help keep peppers firm.
Use a Lid on Your Jar to Keep Mold Away
Mold can be a real issue with ferments. To combat this, I recommend keeping a canning lid and metal band on your jar. This will help prevent airflow from carrying mold spores to the surface of this thick fermented sauce.
Stir Your Chunky Fermented Sweet Pepper Sauce
As the fermenting process happens, you’ll notice that solids and liquid will separate. You’ll soon see a line of liquid in the bottom of your jar. Like this.
When fermenting vegetables, lactic acid bacteria releases carbon dioxide. These bubbles push the solids to the top of your jar, which can eventually cause an overspill of liquid. To avoid this, stir the sauce every couple of days to release bubbles and reincorporate solids into liquid.
Keep Fermenting Sauce on a Plate or Pan
You’ll want to keep your jars of fermenting sweet pepper sauce on a plate or shallow baking pan. Bubble overs can happen quickly and you don’t want the juices running all over your counter. So be safe.
How to Make Chunky Fermented Sweet Pepper Sauce
Step 1: Harvest Your Sweet Peppers
Harvest your sweet peppers in the morning, before the sun really heats them up. Choose the ripest and the sweetest for this recipe. If they have blemishes or soft spots, that’s ok. These parts can be removed later!
Buying your peppers? Make sure you’re actually getting a sweet variety, not a hot one! Any type of sweet pepper should work in this ferment.
Step 2: Rinse to Remove Dust & Insects
If your peppers are dusty or if some were touching the soil, plop them into a colander and give them a quick rinse at the kitchen sink before moving forward.
Step 3: Remove the Stems, Seeds and Blemishes
Using a cutting board and a sharp knife, halve your peppers, cutting out any soft spots or blemishes. Remove the thick green stems and seeds.
Step 4: Weigh Your Sweet Peppers
Once stems and seeds are removed, go ahead and weigh your peppers. To make a 1 pint (500 ml) jar of fermented chunky sweet pepper sauce, you need 12 oz (340 gm).
Step 5: Cut Peppers Into 1 Inch Chunks
If you’re using a kitchen blender to break up your sweet peppers (like I teach you to do here), you’ll want to chop your peppers into 1-2 inch chunks. This way the blender can evenly process them into a chunky sauce.
Step 6: Break Up Peppers in a Kitchen Blender
Stuff chunks of sweet pepper into your kitchen blender. Pulse the machine numerous times, until the sweet peppers are chopped into small pieces and some juices have been released.
Something like this.
Step 7: Stir in Salt and Jar
Empty the contents of the blender into a bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and transfer to a glass pint (500 ml) mason jar.
Fasten down a lid. Put the jar on a plate or inside a baking dish, just in case the ferment bubbles over!
Step 8: Ferment for 7-21 days
Leave your jar to ferment at the back of the kitchen counter for 7-21 days. Be sure to check periodically for a build up of carbon dioxide in the jar as lactic acid goes into action (this usually starts between day 3 and 5).
To release pressure from your jar, you can loosen the lid a wee bit so carbon dioxide releases on it’s own. Or you can quickly loosen off the lid every day to release the build up that occurs.
Eventually, the solids and the liquid will separate due to fermenting action. If this happens, be sure to stir everything together again and continue with the fermenting process.
Taste test after day 7 and when you’re happy with the results, refrigerate.
What Type of Sweet Peppers Should I Use for Fermenting?
To the best of my knowledge, you can use any type of sweet pepper for fermenting! For the best flavor, try to use home grown or locally grown sweet peppers while they’re in season.
How Long Should You Ferment Sweet Pepper Sauce?
You can ferment this chunky fermented sweet pepper sauce for 1-3 weeks. In the original recipe, they recommended 21 days for a full and rich flavor. But I would recommend you base it on your personal preference in taste.
How Do I Know When My Peppers Are Done Fermenting?
This sweet pepper sauce is ready when you think it’s ready! After day 7, you can start taste testing by scooping out a tiny bit on a spoon.
Most of the time, I’d recommend giving it 14 days. But again, it’s totally up to you! The longer you leave it, the softer your peppers will be and the bolder your flavor will become.
How Long Does Fermented Pepper Sauce Last?
Once you’re happy with the flavor profile, you’ll want to refrigerate your sauce to slow the fermenting action. In the refrigerator, it will last for months. In the original recipe, they claim it’ll last up to 2 years! But if you like it as much as I do, it won’t last that long.
Chunky Fermented Sweet Pepper Sauce
- kitchen blender
- cutting board
- small kitchen knife
- 1 pint (500 ml) jar
- a lid
- plate or baking dish
- 12 oz (340 g) sweet peppers, seeds and stem removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Harvest sweet peppers in the morning.
- Rinse at your kitchen sink to remove dust and insects,
- Halve sweet peppers, then remove stems and seeds.
- Check for and cut out any soft spots or blemishes.
- On your kitchen scale, weigh out 12 oz (340 gm) of sweet peppers.
- Chop these sweet peppers into 1-2 inch lengths.
- Stuff lengths of sweet peppers into your kitchen blender.
- Cover blender with it's lid and then pulse numerous times, until sweet pepper chunks have been broken up into tiny pieces and juices are released.
- Empty the pepper sauce into a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Spoon into a pint (500 ml) jar and add a lid.
- Place jar on a plate or baking dish, just in case your ferment bubbles over.
- Check after 3-5 days have passed, being sure to break the seal to release any carbon dioxide that good bacteria have created.
- If a build up is present, loosen the lid a bit or continue to break the seal every day.
- Ferment for 7-21 days, until you're happy with the flavor and softness of the peppers.
- Refrigerate in the jar for up to a year, removing portions as needed.