package free: fermented hot sauce

fermented red Fresno Chile habanero hot sauce probiotic vegan

This year I’m trying to reduce my recycling and rely less often on store bought products in the interest of sustainability- and also just because its fun for me.  I already buy very little pre made foods- see package free: veggie broth , everything bagel spicepackage free: hummus, pickled onions + beets and sauerkraut. but certain things I just haven’t gotten around to DIY-ing: mustard (although I have a great recipe a friend on IG gifted me with), ketchup, mayo, and previously: hot sauce.

I love a good hot sauce to spice things up, and after I watched BA Brad make this amazing fermented hot sauce I just had to try it.  Turns out, it’s super easy, delicious, and cheap to make your own.  Plus I got all the ingredients sans packaging.  My husband even rescued some empty Tabasco and Cholula bottles from his work that were heading for the landfill.  I washed them out and they work perfectly for my own brew.  Zero waste win!

A note about fermenting:  some people are scared of fermenting, fearing botulism or food poisoning.  I’ve been fermenting for years and only had something go off on me once: a batch of kraut that grew mold on the top (I didn’t properly submerge it under the brine).  Not saying it can never happen, but just use common sense: use CLEAN hands, tools, and vessels when fermenting; discard anything that looks or smells bad.  WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT (compost it).

If something is off, it will smell terrible/skunky/strange/alcohol-y or have weird colors/textures.  If it smells delicious and tangy, its fine.  Use your common sense and you’ll be good.  If you’re unsure about something, you can send me a pic of it on instagram if you want!  Two really great books that go into depth on fermentation are Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.  I found these at my library and they’re so interesting and helpful.

Chiles zero waste habanero red Fresno fermented

This recipe was written down from the verbal directions in this video which I highly recommend you watching….its not only hilarious, its super informative and shows you how to do it step by step.

BA brad’s fermented red chile hot sauce:


20 red fresno peppers

3 habanero peppers

3 dried hibiscus flowers (sometimes labeled flor de jamaica or in the tea section)-optional

4 mixed peppercorns (or just all black peppercorns)

4 cardamom pods (optional)

1 teaspoon Aleppo or Maras Biber chili flakes (optional but adds depth)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons kosher sea salt

6 tablespoons sugar

2 quarts of water


Deseed the peppers- you can leave some seeds in, all of the seeds, or none of the seeds.  It will still be really spicy even without seeds from the habaneros.

In a large glass jar, add 1 quart of water and all the spices, salt, and sugar.  Put the lid on and shake it or stir it up until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add in the peppers and the remaining quart of water.  Stir again gently.  Replace lid loosely (so a little air can escape still) and place jar in a dark spot (like a cupboard or closet).

The ideal temp to ferment in is 70-80 degrees.  Keep in mind that if its colder, your ferment will take longer, if its warmer, it will take less time.

Let ferment for 2 weeks and open jar daily or every other day to release gas. After 2 weeks, open jar and press on peppers with a wooden spoon quite firmly to release juices and break down cell walls a bit, and stir jar.  This is what my jar looked like after 2 weeks- bubbly but nothing crazy, smelling super savory and delicious.

Fermented Chile hot sauce garlic hibiscus

Let ferment another 2 weeks. Continue to open jar daily to release gas.  This is what my jar looked like at this point.  See that white waxy/filmy stuff?  Thats totally normal and fine- don’t get freaked out if you see this.  Its just natural yeasts from the chile skins.

Fermented Chile salt brine hot sauce zero waste

Strain the liquid, reserving it for later.  Remove whole spices if desired.  Add rest of jar into blender. Add half a cup of liquid from straining and blend smooth, adding more liquid as needed to attain desired consistency.  Bottle and enjoy!



10 thoughts on “package free: fermented hot sauce

  1. Hello and thank you for sharing this. It sounds *so* good. One of my own aspirations for the year is to deepen with depending more upon seasonal/local food. I have lots of dried hot peppers from our summer garden…do you have any idea if these would work? Also wondering about substituting honey for the sugar?

    1. Hi! A great aspiration. I try to do this too and it’s been deeply rewarding cooking in alignment with the season. I made this recipe a while back and just didn’t get around to posting- oops! I know for sure you can make hot sauce with dried chili’s but not fermented hot sauce. For that you need something living/raw/fresh unless you add in some kind of a starter like raw apple cider vinegar or water kefir, rejuvelac etc. but this is uncharted territory for me in terms of fermenting so I’m not sure. This post may be helpful: If you have success please let me know! I’d love to hear. Thanks for stopping by xx Amanda

    1. Hi! Personally I store in my cabinet at room temp but you can store it in the fridge if you like. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy xx

  2. Dear Amanda I’m a big fan of yours, this is the second batch I made of this recipe however some times I change the kind of chiles as I need to visit the latin market for habaneros so I most of the times I add jalapeños instead. But the end result is still great!. Just wanted to share that yesterday I cook mushroom chorizo and instead of adding the water from cooking the dried chiles to make the salsa, I added the water that was left from this sauce, and the end result was really good!. Since you have made enchiladas I thought you will like to try it. Also for the chorizo mushroom tacos you will only need a similar salsa to the one you use for the enchiladas. 🙂 Thanks for all that you do.

    1. Hi Maria! I’m so happy that you are enjoying this recipe. What a great idea to do that with the enchiladas, yum!! Thanks for your support. Lots of love xoxo

  3. Hi Amanda! I am so excited to try this recipe; I am attempting to move from canning lots of jams and fruit (to cut down on excess sugar) to more fermenting and veggie-based canning. Do you think that omitting the garlic would severely alter the taste? Garlic is a huge trigger for my IBS, so I don’t use it, except for infused oils. I’m excited to try this hot sauce recipe; Trader Joe’s was my go-to but they’ve discontinued my beloved Chili Pepper Sauce twice already so I’m glad to find a version I can make myself and not have to buy bottle after bottle! Many thanks!

    1. Hi! I think you could leave the garlic out (or replace with a bit of onion) and it would still be yummy. So happy to hear you’re experimenting with ferments! They’re so fun and delicious. Lots of love xoxo

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