Some Like it Hot: Fermented Chili Paste

Do you like things a little bit spicy?  I’m not sure when it happened for me, but for as long as I can remember I have liked spicy foods.  Loved them, actually – even as a child.  It was like a badge of honor if you could eat spicy foods without complaining.  And I could down some spicy foods.

I like a lot of horseradish in my cocktail sauce.  I want it to make my sinuses burn.

I like a lot of wasabi with my sushi.  I want my eyes to water and my nose to run.

I put hot sauce on a lot of things, and jalapenos are a common topping for just about anything.  When I was pregnant with both my boys I craved many different foods, but mostly it was anything that was spicy, spicy, spicy.  The spicier the better – heartburn be damned.

So when I saw this recipe for fermented chili sauceover at Nourished Kitchen I just knew I had to make it.  As much tobasco and sriracha as I go through, it seems like I should know how to make it myself.


You know it’s going to be hot when it starts with 1.5 pounds of habanero peppers.  Yes, you read that right – 1.5 pounds.  The original recipe calls for three pounds, but since I’m the only lover of chilis in my family, I figured I could make do with a half pint instead of a pint of hot sauce.  If I finish it all in a month, then I’ll know I was wrong.
Basically, you just throw them in the bowl of your food processor with a couple cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of sucanat, a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt and 1/8 cup of whey.
Puree it until it looks like this.

Spoon the mixture into some clean mason jars and stick it in a corner of your kitchen for about a week.  This is mine sitting next to some sauerkraut and some ketchup that I was also fermenting.  Screw the rings on, but don’t get them too tight – you want there to be some escape for the gases from the bubbles that begin to form as the fermentation process progresses.  Check them periodically – if the lids begin to get hard when you press on them, unscrew the rings and allow some of the gas to escape.  After about a week, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Pour the resulting liquid into a half-pint jar, and spoon the leftover paste into a pint jar.

These will keep in your fridge for a couple of months.  Oddly enough, I like the sauce, but I find myself reaching for that paste almost every day.  I put it in some pickles I was making the other day, I put a tiny bit in some scrambled eggs the other morning, and I mixed some in with my pasta carbonara for dinner tonight.

It’s hot – that’s for absolute certain.  But it also has a perfume-y, almost floral quality to it.  It doesn’t take much, just about 1/8 teaspoon will lend plenty of heat to a full plate of food without detracting from the flavor of the food.

If you like things spicy, then I highly recommend making this.  It will make your eyes water, your nose run, your sinuses burn and your brow sweat – just as a good chili paste should.

21 thoughts on “Some Like it Hot: Fermented Chili Paste

  1. >i love hot.. it s good.. we do some paste like this adding inside walnut, cheese, oniion , garlic, olive oil , i love it and even eating for

  2. >I come from SIngapore so i always appreciate a good chilli sauce! Fermenting it sounds like a great way to add some health benfits! (:

  3. >My boyfriend has been trying to convince me to try habanero's for quite a while, and this seems like a great way to try them 🙂

  4. >@spinypineapple – the whey is not necessary, it just speeds fermentation a bit. You could do it with just salt, sugar and peppers. I believe you would need to increase the salt content a bit, though. I ferment sauerkraut without whey – just cabbage and salt – so I know it can be done. I'm just not sure what your ratios should be. I'll do a bit of research and see what I can find out.

  5. >Me too! Me too! I feel like I was the one writing this post. When I was pregnant with my two boys, I, too, craved spicy spicy spicy! And I love a good spice-inducing runny nose and burning mouth. Mmmmm, bring it on.My husband and I have been looking for a hot hot chili paste recipe, and I think I've just found it! Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Walter:

      That’s a good question – one that I’m not prepared to answer, unfortunately. I do know that you can actually ferment without the addition of whey (I make my sauerkraut that way) – lactobacillus bacteria occurs naturally on the outside of most plants, and with time and the right environment fermentation will occur naturally. The whey only speeds the process. Hope that helps!

  6. Reblogged this on NineRocks and commented:
    Just planted a bunch of Chili plants in the garden and knowing that I am going to have way more chilies than I will be able to eat before they go bad I started looking to ways to preserve them and came across this great recipe for a fermented chili paste. HOT! (in both senses)

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