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Lacto Hot Sauce

Post date: 05 Mar 2020

We made and bottled hot sauce to give as gifts to Maggie, Trina, Hilary, and Sharlene at the 2018 GetUp! graduation. The hot sauce itself is ‘lactofermented’, meaning that it uses natural fermentation from lactobacilli to break sugars down into lactic acid. This lactic acid provides same delicious, sour flavor you get from kosher dill pickles and kimchi; it also extends the shelf-live of the produce.

Thankfully, if you’ve grown vegetables in your garden or purchased them at a farmer’s market, it’s easy to ferment at home: there’s plenty of natural bacteria from the soil! The key technique is this: submerge vegetables in a 5% salt brine, weigh them down to prevent exposure to air, and then wait for bubbles to form. Bubbles=fermentation!

This recipe takes a weeks from start-to-finish, but could take longer based on your microclimate and house temperature.


  • glass or ceramic weights
    • These weigh down the produce and prevents exposure to oxygen
    • If you don’t have any, you can substitute a ziplock bag with salt brine inside. Shove it in the mouth of your jar!
  • a non-reactive container for fermentation, like a ceramic crock or glass jar of any size. Your pickling peppers and other ingredients will live here while they’re fermenting.
  • kitchen scale
  • gloves
    • To protect your fingers, etc. from residual oils in peppers, which can burn your eyes and other soft issues.
  • metal or glass non-reactive bowl
  • food processor to puree ingredients
  • optional: 5oz glass bottles for storage/serving, food mill for making smooth


  • salt
    • Needs to be a non-iodized salt, like Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Anything iodized or with additional chemicals (like anti-caking agents) will inhibit natural fermentation.
  • carrots
    • Adds sweetness and body
  • garlic
  • peppers
    • We used habaneros, but you could easy use other hot peppers. Whichever pepper you use, you want something deeply colored and aromatic


  • Make a 5% salt brine, by weighing a few cups of water and adding 5% of that weight in salt.
  • De-stem peppers. Weigh the product, and add 5% salt by weight in your nonreactive bowl. Let sit on the counter to sweat water out of the produce, up to overnight. When you’re ready, move the produce+accumulated water to your jar, and your weights (if using) or your ziplock bag (if using that), and cover completely with your 5% salt brine. No peppers should be exposed to oxygen when you’re done.
  • Repeat with carrots and garlic. We recommend fermenting the carrots and garlic together, but the peppers separately since they may take longer to finish.
  • Weight-wise, we recommend a 6:2:1 ratio of carrots, garlic and peppers, but you find yourself adjusting
  • You can keep this fermenting for a very long time! People do so for years. We usually in our San Francisco kitchen let vegetables ferment for 6 weeks to get to a good sourness, but in a warmer climate, as short as 4 weeks is sometimes enough.
  • When ready, food process / puree the ingredients together. Add more salt (or pepper brine) if needed to taste, or anything else you think might go well. If you have one, a food mill is great for making a smoother, less chunky product, but isn’t necessary.

-Buro + zmagg