Fermenting chiles

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These may look innocent enough to you

but that’s because your eyes aren’t watering from the heat. If you’re a chile head like me, or another person i know then you might like what i’m about to tell you. i like my chiles homegrown (or local farmer grown) and i like my chiles all year ’round. this is how i get both: for every 1/2 pound of chiles (or mild peppers if you’re more of a sweet head) you need 1 pint of water, 1 & 1/4 tablespoons of sea salt, and a 1 quart container.

1. wash and dry the chiles, leave them whole if they are small, cut in pieces if larger. place in the quart container.

2. dissolve the salt in the water and pour over chiles to cover. important: you need to make sure the chiles are completely submerged in the brine. you can see in the photo above that i’ve placed a smaller sized jar on top (inside the larger jar) to help submerge the chiles. i also had brine left over which i sealed in the top jar in case i need more brine once the chiles start to ferment. you can always make more brine if you need, using the ratio above.

you don’t need a jar in a jar, you can put them in a bowl that fits a plate inside, and some kind of weight on top of that. make sure whatever you use is clean of course.

3. keep the chiles at room temperature, checking the next day, and the day after to make sure they are still submerged. add more brine if you need.

4. you may see a bit of something that looks like ‘scum’ form on the top of the brine, and/or the jar or plate you have submerged.

that’s ok. just skim it off and rinse off the jar or plate and replace it, making sure the chiles are submerged. everything should calm down in a few days. then you can pretty much leave it alone and just check on every 3 days or so to make sure all is in order.

5. in about 3 weeks or so, give them a taste, they should have all of that chile goodness, with an added tang of sour. (yum!) when you deem them ready, drain the brine into a saucepan, bring to the boil and skim off any residue on top. let the brine cool.

6. put the chiles into a clean jar, pour the boiled & cooled brine over, cap the jar and place in fridge.

…that my peeps, is how i enjoy homegrown chiles all year – or at least through the winter months. i use them for cooking all manner of curries and stir-frys, and anywhere fresh chiles are called for in cooking.

i also enjoy these babies fresh from the jar whenever a dish needs a little – or a lot of – heat.

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