If you should find yourself in possession of a bounty of hot peppers, we humbly suggest you make this simple fermented hot sauce. It works with any amount of chiles you have (although you’ll want more than a handful to make this project worthwhile).
When made with Tabasco chiles, hotter cayenne varieties, or red serranos, this sauce is a good approximation of the classic Avery Island condiment called Tabasco Sauce. That said, we encourage you to branch out: Any hot chile will work. Ripe red, orange, and yellow chiles are best; green specimens can work, but they do not ferment as vigorously (and the resulting sauce is not the most attractive color). Several smashed garlic cloves or a diced plum tomato can also be added (just be sure to include them when weighing the chiles).
Fermented "Louisiana-Style" Hot Sauce
Yield varies according to amount of chiles used
Fresh hot red chiles, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Wearing protective gloves, stem, seed, and chop the chiles with a pair of kitchen shears for minimal contact with the peppers. You can chop the chiles in a food processor or with a knife instead. Find a pint, quart, or half-gallon jar that will fit the chopped peppers. Place the jar in a deep pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, then lift out the jar and pour out the water.
Place the jar on a scale and tare it. Add the chiles and just enough water to cover and record the weight in grams. Multiply that number by 0.02 and add the resulting amount in grams of:
Pickling salt, fine sea salt, or Diamond kosher salt
Mix and mash the chiles thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover the vessel with a piece of thin kitchen towel secured with a rubber band, a loosely screwed-on lid, or an airlock.
Check the ferment daily for signs of activity. If white mold appears, remove it with a spoon, stir the chile mixture and cover again. You will eventually see bubbles forming in the pepper mash. Let the mash ferment until the bubbling stops, for up to 6 weeks, though some ferments will need much less time.
Place a food mill over a bowl, pour the pepper mash and brine into the mill, and work the flesh and seeds, rotating the handle in both directions to push as much liquid and pulp from the mash as possible (if desired, reserve what is left in the food mill, dehydrate it, coarsely grind, and use as a seasoning). Measure the volume of the liquid and add half that amount of:
Cider, white wine, or rice vinegar
Feel free to experiment here with something more flavorful, like a dash of sherry, banana, or pineapple vinegar. If necessary, add:
(Salt to taste)
Transfer to sterilized bottles and store refrigerated.