I love peppers! LOVE peppers! I’m notorious for scooping up all the ripe red chilies at the farmers market because I love the color. They can be hard to find here in North Dakota because it tends to freeze before most of the peppers are able to get ripe. I was able to snag up a bunch at the market this last Saturday and my CSA had a bunch of gorgeous red jalapenos for me too. I’ve never understood why everyone eats jalapenos when they are green. Red jalapenos are so pretty.
Did you know red peppers aren’t any hotter than their green companions? And did you know all peppers turn red (or orange or yellow or even purple)? I always do some pepper mashes that are green, some that are red and some yellow. This year I think I snagged up enough orange peppers to make an orange mash.
You can tone down the heat of any pepper (include habaneros) by seeding them and cutting out the veins. The seeds are the part of the pepper that hold all of the spice. The veins (the white pithy part that is attached to the seeds) is only hot because it’s in contact with the seeds. If you remove both of those, you take out most of the heat with them. Some heat still remains but it’s not nearly as bad. You can adjust the amount of heat by taking away some or all of the seeds and veins. One thing to remember when making pepper mash or chili sauce is that the heat does get toned down over time. You might want to make it a little hotter than you normally would eat.
When handling your peppers, wear gloves! And maybe a face mask and onion goggles while you’re at it. Blending in a food processor can be pretty overwhelming. If you forget to put your gloves on, don’t worry, you can still get the hot stuff off your hands. Capsicum is not water soluble but it is oil soluble. Just like drinking a glass of milk after eating something hot is better than water, washing with oil removes the capsicum better. To do this, first wash with soap, then pour about a tbsp or more (don’t be stingy) oil on your hands. Coconut oil, olive oil, lard, whatever your have on hand. Rub it in well and then rinse off in the warmest water you can stand. Works like a charm.
- 1 lb of peppers* (weighed after stems removed)
- 1 oz non-iodized sea saltEquipment needed: Food processor, fermentation vessel.Trim stems off of peppers, you can leave the caps on for a more earthy flavor.For a less hot mash, you can remove some or all of the seeds.Chop roughly and place in a food processor along with salt.Process until smooth and spoon into a 3/4L fermentation vessel.Seal jar and don’t forget to fill the airlock with water.Place in a dark warm place for about 5-10 days depending on how warm it is. My house is on the cool side, around 68F, so I left mine out for 10 days.Place in cold storage, best between 45-55F. The door of your fridge or the top shelf toward the front are the warmest places.Now comes the hard part, the wait. Pepper mash only gets better with time. I won’t even touch my mash for at least 6 months and it’s even better to wait a full year. You’ll want to keep the airlock in place (mini airlocks fit better in fridges) for at least a month after refrigeration, replacing the water weekly or you can fill the airlock with vegetable glycerin.After the ferment has settled down, you can switch the Pickl-it lid out for a Fido lid. Open the jar after a week and if the lid makes a pop when you open it, you should put the airlock back in because the ferment is still too active.*Chipotle Mash, add 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder for a smokey flavor.*Garlic Pepper Mash, add 2-3 cloves of garlic per pound of peppers.
- fermented pepper mashEquipment need: food mill or mesh colander.Once the peppers have fermented for a while (at least a week), you can mill the skin and seeds out to make a sauce. I find using a food mill with the finest plate to be the easiest way. If you don’t have a food mill, you can push the liquid through a mesh colander.You can reserve the leftover solids and add to dishes like scrambled eggs.
*When choosing your peppers, fleshy peppers work best. I’ve successfully fermented jalapenos (red and green), Hungarian peppers, super chilies and scotch bonnets. Thin fleshed peppers like cayenne peppers are best used whole or sliced.