View Full Version : Lacto-Fermentation

08-27-2017, 11:50 AM
I know I’ve talked to a few people about lacto-fermentation but I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread specific to it. I got interested in lacto-fermentation a few years ago after finding out how easy it is, and have been using it regularly to make sauces and ingredients. The most commonly known uses for this is with cabbage, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, but you can really use it with any vegetables. The process uses “Lactobacillus” bacteria that’s already present on all plants, and only takes a little bit of salt (2% by weight) to pull them out and get the process started.

The process is straight forward – cut up whatever you want to ferment, weigh and put in a jar, make a salt water mixture using 2% of the total weight and fill up the jar until the brine barely covers the solids. Put a weight on it to try to stop anything from floating to the top, then put an airlock on it to let out co2 without letting in oxygen and wait.

A few weeks ago I went down to Pueblo CO, an old farming town that has their own type of chili pepper that I wanted to check out. I went to one of the bigger farms and got a whole bunch of different peppers to ferment for different projects. Without really knowing what I was doing, I got (from sweet to hot) Sweet Lilac, White Dove, Sweet Marconi, Sweet Yum Yum, Big Jim Hot Anaheim, Pueblo, Ancho. I took three big mason jars and made a mixture for eating/cooking with on their own, a mixture that will be turned into a hot sauce, and one that was just fire roasted pueblos with a little garlic. I did a few test batches a while back with regular Anaheims to figure out the best way to ferment “roasted peppers” to follow the local trend of roasting these chilis in the big drums, which everybody usually freezes to use during the rest of the year. I ended on just blistering the skin with a kitchen torch, the end product is less mushy than using fully roasted peppers, but still has a little smoky flavor.

I chopped these up and put in their respective jars, filled with brine and let them sit. After one day I could start seeing the first bubbles form, which increased over the rest of the week. After one week I took out the weight (I use glass ones I bought off amazon but you can use a smaller mason jar, they fit in the wide mouth top) and stirred it up, at which point it looked like it was churning with all the activity. I let it sit for two more weeks, then this morning stirred them again. It is still making bubbles, but it’s slowing down, probably a few more weeks until they are done fermenting completely.


I’m making this thread to go through this particular batch as well as start a conversation with anybody else who might be into experimenting with lacto-fermentation, and talk about any batches in the future. Anybody else play around with this?

08-27-2017, 11:52 AM
To add on that, yesterday I picked up some hatch chilis and roasted them with a torch the same way I did with the pueblos to ferment alongside in a 4th jar, to see the difference when they’re done as they often compared to each other. As you can see after 3 weeks the colors have dulled (both started out a similar color of green). I'll keep updating with this one as well


08-27-2017, 12:56 PM
Sweet! and spicy... :tu

Porch Dweller
08-27-2017, 01:18 PM
Those look great!

08-31-2017, 10:24 AM
Picking up a used bourbon barrel from Great Divide Brewing tomorrow (used for bourbon then used for barrel aged beer), plan is to cut up one of the staves and put in the hot sauce mason jar when it's done fermenting to age for a few months. I used oak chips in my last fermented hot sauce and it added a nice subtle complexity to the final product, but using wood in chip form was a terrible idea logistically (had to pick out all the smaller pieces with tweezers before blending into a sauce). Hoping this will be easier and add more flavor, since they're used instead of raw oak chips. Got a few other ideas to use some of the other staves, but this is a definite

08-31-2017, 11:21 AM
I have a pepper sauce in the works right now, combination of some beautifully orange Perron peppers and a couple orange habs. I believe it has garlic in it as well, plus some oak blocks. Been fermenting for ~5 months? I really need to take better notes. I plan to process and bottle sometime over the winter.

I want to get another batch going soon. A chef friend that ferments just about anything, talked about a hot sauce he did where it included a local brewery IPA in the mix. If I can get to the farmers market this weekend, I plan to buy a bunch and give that a try myself.

08-31-2017, 11:32 AM
The IPA added after the fermentation I assume? very interesting. I have some heady topper hot sauce I got as a gift from somebody who went to the brewery, more of an onion flavor than hot but still really good, I bet that's how they did it. Maybe if I'm feeling creative once these stop bubbling so much I'll ferment some stuff to make a sauce using beers to finish (love some of the local sours, I bet if I did a mix of stuff that goes well with a cherry or raspberry I could combine with a beer and make something really interesting)

08-31-2017, 11:55 AM
Was hoping for something different in this thread

Tio Gato
08-31-2017, 02:59 PM
Was hoping for something different in this thread


08-31-2017, 03:10 PM
Was hoping for something different in this thread

Sorry to disappoint by only having pictures of food :sl

09-11-2017, 11:05 AM
Took out the four jars to give a stir and inspect, the three pueblo project jars have mellowed in terms of fermentation activity, very few bubbles but they smell great. Gonna leave them to hang for another month or so and inspect again. One of the jars, the one that will become a hot sauce, has been forming a very small amount of Kahm Yeast (http://www.fermentools.com/blog/what-is-kahm-yeast/) on the top. This usually occurs in ~20% of my ferments, and while it's a little ugly it's nothing I worry about. This is especially true with something that will become a hot sauce, because I will eventually add vinegar which should create a PH environment to neutralize any yeast formations


As for the hatch chilis, they are still fermenting rigorously, the jar smelled and sounded like sticking your nose over a freshly opened seltzer. Gonna revisit in a few weeksw and see if it's calmed down at all

09-11-2017, 12:01 PM
I popped open my latest pepper ferment to add to it. I was under estimated to think a couple lbs of peppers would fill a 2gal bucket. I had a big of green mold which I removed. Added the latest batch of peppers/salt. Now the buckets almost half filled.

09-11-2017, 12:06 PM
How long since you started the ferment? do you notice any ill effects of adding to a batch that's already going? Do you just add more brine equivalent to the amount of salt for the additional portion? I've thought about the idea of doing this to add a variety of textures to the final product, but I don't know if it would actually make a difference

09-11-2017, 12:19 PM
How long since you started the ferment? do you notice any ill effects of adding to a batch that's already going? Do you just add more brine equivalent to the amount of salt for the additional portion? I've thought about the idea of doing this to add a variety of textures to the final product, but I don't know if it would actually make a difference

The original was started last week Saturday. I hadn't seen any airlock action, but then there was so much head space to make up for in the bucket. I don't use a brine, I just do % of salt (usually 3.5%) to weight of the peppers. There's enough liquid in the peppers to create it's own brine. This go around though, does have 12oz of a NE-IPA added. Got the idea from a chef friend.

09-11-2017, 12:32 PM
Interesting, I've done a liquid brine every time but one, I did some cherries "dry fermented" after seeing it on mind of a chef (or one of those shows), but it didn't have too much juice and I haven't revisited those in a while to see how they're doing.

Very curious to hear how things are going with the beer in there while it's fermenting, I was thinking about ways to incorporate beer but I thought it might mess with the process if you do it while they're still churning, let me know how it goes please :tu

09-11-2017, 12:43 PM
Will do. I"m keeping it in the kitchen now too, see if the slightly warmer temps help kick off the ferment. Basement's running low to mid 60's now.

09-12-2017, 08:03 AM
Just chopped up a bunch of peppers I got at a famrnwrs market (inspired by this thread)
Sitting quietly in a jug - will post pictures in a few days....

09-12-2017, 08:19 AM
Just chopped up a bunch of peppers I got at a famrnwrs market (inspired by this thread)
Sitting quietly in a jug - will post pictures in a few days....

Did you add any salt?

09-18-2017, 09:55 AM
I was at a spice shop in Fort Collins on Saturday and saw they had "fermented chili flakes," I gave them a little taste and it was pretty good, but thought maybe I could make it myself. Yesterday morning I took a handfull of some sweet and spicy fermented thai chilis I made last year that have just been sitting around and cut them in strips/laid out on a parchment paper, along with about a dozen cloves of fermented garlic cut extra thin because why not. I put these in the oven starting at 200* but eventually working my way down to my oven's minimum, 170*, checking every 30 minutes. After 2 hours the peppers were dried and close to crumbling, but the garlic would still bend. I took the peppers out and into the spice grinder, where they broke down quite nicely. I put the garlic in for another hour and while it got a lot darker, it never really got the the point that it would break instead of bend. I figured any longer and they might start to burn so I gave up and took them out, even though they were still maliable I put them in the spice grinder and it actually turned into a nice powder, darker than your typical garlic powder but much better result than I was expecting.

All of that good stuff aside I ended with... about a teaspoon of each. I haven't tasted them yet but the smell is very concentrated and pungent, much funkier than the one I tasted in the store. Don't know if it's worth all the effort to make such a small amount, I guess that depends on how much I need to really impart that spicy sour flavor I was going for, I'll update when I do some more taste testing :dr

(before going in the oven, didn't take any pictures of the final product)

09-18-2017, 10:55 AM
Ben, not sure if I mentioned this, but if your on FB join the group "The Salt Cured Pickle". Lots of good info there for fermenting all kinds of foods.

09-18-2017, 11:00 AM
hmm, haven't been on facebook in a while but it might be worth logging in to get some ideas, I'm sure there are a ton of groups out there experimenting. When I bought some glass weights on amazon it came with a "free membership" to some sort of fermentation club/message board, gotta check that out as well

09-18-2017, 11:12 AM
Saw a woman doing this in the mall, some people were outraged, but cooking is cooking.

09-29-2017, 03:00 PM
Gave the jars a check today, the initial three show no signs of continued fermentation, I gave them a stir anyways and put them back to sit. The more recent hatch chili one still has a little bit of activity but it's getting to the end

A couple weeks ago I broke down the barrel I bought, and took a few staves to lightly sand and cut into 5-6" pieces. I put two of these in the jar fermenting the hot sauce, gonna let those sit for a few months to really let it mingle. Side note, when I was cutting the staves it smelled like delicious beer, it made me thirsty :al


01-08-2018, 10:35 AM
Checked on these again yesterday, been almost 5 months and all fermentation is definitely completed, but they're just hanging out in the jars waiting for something to happen. The only one I currently have a plan for is the hot sauce jar that I put the barrel staves in, it's smelling amazing almost fruity, hopefully get a chance to do some more work on that one soon. I've made sauce a few different ways, but I think I need a food mill (something like this (https://smile.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Food-Mill/dp/B000I0MGKE/ref=sr_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1515429088&sr=1-3&keywords=food+mill)) to really get the most out of the peppers (although puree and strain has treated me well in the past).

As for the other jars, I might end up blending them into the hot sauce depending on how things are tasting, I always want to experiment with stuff when I have no real goal in mind, I love having jars of fermented peppers around but I find I don't use them as much, I use hot sauces a lot more so miscellaneous jars usually end up being turned into hot sauce then given away. I don't know if I want to one day get a solid recipe and "mass produce" a dozen bottles or so, or if I want to keep doing on-off production runs. For now I'll keep playing and taking notes :D

01-08-2018, 12:12 PM
I'm contemplating putting a stave in the jar I of peppers I have going right now. It's been fermenting for 5-6 months, maybe longer. Fermentation is complete, but now it's just letting the flavors mature.

I put up two jars of brussel sprout kimchi right after Christmas. Still fermenting away happily. I ate a little bit last week with a dinner I prepared. Still very crunchy but already taking on some of the sour flavor you get with kimchi. Definitely a winner.

As a side note, if you run the solids through a food mill (I need to pick one up too), save them and dehydrate. You can grind further if you'd like. Use as further seasoning, or mix with a salt, etc. I have a jar of two year old fermented garlic scapes I need to process this way.

Oh, the brine from the scapes I"m thinking of using to brine some chicken to then batter/fry. :dr

01-08-2018, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the tips, I've dried full fermented peppers to use in spices but when I strain I always end up throwing away the leftover gunk, I'll definitely save and dry this time.

As for the brine, I use it in stir fries and stuff like that but I've never re-used it for brining purposes. I think the stuff that comes out of my peppers could be a bit too spicy to use to brine a bird, but I bet if I mixed it with regular ol' salt water to dilute it would be pretty tasty :dr

01-10-2018, 09:24 AM
Alright Bob, you got me thinking. Last night I was cooking some chicken breasts in the instant pot to use in a salad, after giving the outsides a quick sear I split them up in two batches to pressure cook, using a trivet so the chicken was not physically touching any liquid. The first I did using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup chicken broth for liquid at the bottom of the pressure cooker, the second I used 1/3 cup fermented pepper brine and 2/3 cup water. While I wouldn't call the second one "spicy" (the original brine had a little kick but it wasn't from one of my hot pepper runs), it definitely had a little pepper and funk to it, in a good way. It wasn't enough to call it completely different than the control so I ended up mixing them together to eat, but I think if I upped that to 2/3 cup brine it may impart a significant amount of flavor. I'll give that a shot next time

01-10-2018, 09:35 AM
Interesting idea, glad to hear it worked.

I'm looking at getting either a 1 or 2 gallon crock. Local home brew store has them in stock for good prices, better than Amazon. I want to start doing larger batches of pepper ferments. Reading through a friends recipe, sounds like he continues to add to the crock until it's filled.

01-10-2018, 09:54 AM
I really want to start doing bigger batches, I just have no use for that many peppers, I have a hard time using all the stuff I've built up so far