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fiery ferments
ED IT ED B Y Margaret Sutherland and Hannah Fries
T E XT PR O D U CTION BY Liseann Karandisecky
IN D E XED BY Samantha Miller

CO V ER PH OT OGRAP HY BY Lara Ferroni, except authors photo by Ariana Shockey

IN T E R IOR P HOTOGR AP HY BY Lara Ferroni, except Kirsten K. Shockey, 63, 67, 70 (right),
250253; Maja Smend/Getty Images, 48; Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images, 54 (left);
Wildlife GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo, 54 (right)

IL LU S T R AT I ONS BY Veronica Ballart Lilja

2017 by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey

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Foreword by Darra Goldstein vii

Introduction viii

Part I Getting Started 8

CHAPTER 1 Tools and Tips 11

CHAPTER 2 Master the Techniques 27

CHAPTER 3 The Hot Stuff: Your Ingredients 45

Part II Fiery Ferments 74

CHAPTER 4 Spicy Pre-Chile Recipes 77

CHAPTER 5 Sauces 89

CHAPTER 6 Salsas, Relishes, and Chutneys . . . Oh My! 119

CHAPTER 7 Flavor Pastes 143

CHAPTER 8 Kimchis and Fermented Salads 163

CHAPTER 9 Hot Pickles 179

Part III On the Plate 194

C H A P T E R 10 Blazing Plates 197

C H A P T E R 11 Spirited Sips and Racy Desserts 237

Fermentation Doctor 250

Acknowledgments 255

Index 256
Fiery Ferments is not just another hot sauce book.

Dont worry, there are plenty of delicious fermented hot sauce recipes in this book;
if that is all you want, you will not be disappointed. However, we wanted to explore
what it means to push the essence of pungency. As we researched and experimented,
we discovered that there are many ways to wake up the tongue in that eye-popping,
wow-what-did-I-just-taste moment. And there are a lot of people who love stimulat-
ing, flavorful food but prefer not to singe their mouths. This book is for them, too.

Humans seem to have always craved some spice in their lives and in their meals. Until
very recently (if you consider the time frame of all of human history), our favorite spicy
foods and condiments were likely preserved through lacto-fermentation, with all the
flavor, nutrients, enzymes, vitality, and other elements of goodness that accrue from
working with probiotic bacteria. Then methods of quick acidification with vinegar and
pasteurization came along, and our traditional spicy foods lost their probiotic love. Yes,
modern hot sauces can stand on grocery-store shelves waiting for you to buy them for a
very long time and will remain safe and flavorful, but they are no longer alive.

We think its time to bring that life the fiery ferments back into our own lives.
We have devoted ourselves to researching ancient accounts of meals around the world,
deconstructing hot sauces and rebuilding them with new custom vegetable ferments,
and doing a lot of testing on the plate. We hope you enjoy these spicy characters as we
give them their seats at the head of the table. They are fun, a bit crazy, and full of flavor.


Master tHe
Never made lacto-fermented vegetables before? No worries! In this chapter
you will become a master of the techniques used to create flavorful pepper
mashes, pastes, and brine-based pickles and sauces. Every lacto-ferment uses
the same process veggies of some kind + a little salt + anaerobic condi-
tions. However, a spicy pickle is a very different ferment from a fiery herbal
paste, which is, again, different from a sauce.
Each recipe in this book will tell you which fermenting technique to use and
detail the specifics that apply to that particular recipe. Think of this chapters
step-by-step visual guides as a reference to consult not only before you begin,
but also when you are standing in the kitchen looking at your ferment and won-
dering, what do I do now?

(like Tabasco) to the unique flavors of Latin

You Can Have Your Mash American and Caribbean sauces to the thick
andEat It Too pungency of Asian-style sauces.
Pepper mash is a fermented pulpy gruel of In a large-scale hot sauce plant, pepper
mashed hot chile peppers and salt, and it is mash is made by crushing whole red chiles with
the base of the hot sauces we know and love, a hammer mill and adding a 5 to 8 percent salt
from the vinegary Louisiana-style sauces ratio. This mixture is then put into barrels.

A Step-by-Step Visual Guide

Basic Pepper Mash

A pepper mash can be made with any type weights tend to sink. In the steps below, we
of pepper, from sweet to fiery hot, or a com- suggest using a closed system for this ferment,
bination of peppers. The process is the same such as a simple closed jar or an airlock system.
no matter which varieties you choose with The trickiest part of fermenting a pepper
so many options, you have a lifetime of spicy mash is keeping it submerged and anaerobic.
experimentation ahead of you. Unlike other ferments where the brine tends to
Weighting a pepper mash is possible (you float above the vegetables, the pulpy flesh and
could try it with a water-filled ziplock bag), but seeds of the mash tend to float to the top of the
the mash is soft and lacks structure, so it is diffi- brine. If you have not fermented mash before,
cult to get a traditional weight to stay in place, you will find that a little careful attention to set-
especially in small, jar-sized ferments the ting up this ferment will go a long way.

1. Mash any type of fresh pepper. Use a mortar 3. Press the mash into a jar, leaving at least 1
and pestle, food processor, or food grinder inch of headspace if youre using a pint jar,
or simply dice with a knife. and more for a larger vessel. You may not
see a lot of brine above the pepper pulp,
2. Mix in the salt. A lot of brine will form but with a closed system that will be okay.

YIELD: About 1 cups

TECHN IQUE: Pastes and Mustards (page 37)

H E AT I N D E X: 1

Horseradish mustard
This is spicy mustard, a hands-down favorite at our house. If you like the spice but want a
milder version, try mixing it with mayonnaise or aioli.

23 tablespoons grated 1. Place the horseradish root in a blender with the mustard
fresh horseradish root seeds, garlic, turmeric, salt, and water. Blend until smooth.
As the mustard seeds break down, they act as a thickening
cup brown mustard
agent, and the mixture will become creamy. Keep blending
until it achieves a uniform paste.
cup white mustard
seeds 2. Spoon your mustard into a pint jar, pressing out any air pock-
ets as you go. When it is all in the jar, you may need to use a
2 cloves garlic, grated
butter knife to work out any remaining pockets. Then screw
1 teaspoon grated the lid down tightly.
fresh turmeric root or
teaspoon powdered 3. Set the jar on your counter to ferment for 3 days. This fer-
ment will not create air pockets or release much in the way of
2 teaspoons salt CO2, so you will not need to burp it.
1 cup unchlorinated water
4. Following fermentation, open the lid (it may pop slightly as
TO ADD AF TER a little CO2 is released) and stir in the vinegar and the sugar
FERMENTATION: or honey. If youre using sugar, it will take a little while for the
1 tablespoon raw apple sugar crystals to melt into the mustard. Let sit for about 10
cider vinegar minutes, stir again, and your mustard is ready to serve.

1 teaspoon brown sugar 5. Store this mustard in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up
or honey to 3 months.

Spicy Fun Legend

Myth has it that the Oracle at Delphi told Apollo, The radish is worth its weight in lead, the
beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold. Well, yeah the Greeks thought
horseradish was not only a pain reliever but also an aphrodisiac. Need we say more?


Toasting Long Pepper

Toasting long pepper on a dry pan over medium heat brings out the kick. Stir frequently; as
you toast it, you will see the color change from dark brown to a lighter shade of brown. At
the same time, the peppers will soften as they warm, which makes them easier to grind with a
mortar and pestle. If you are using a coffee grinder, allow them to cool a bit before grinding,
as the same softness that helps with hand grinding can make them a bit tacky for the grinder.

Achars are very different from the brine-drenched ferments that most folks are
familiar with. In fact, they sit in the sun, proudly fermenting in a fairly dry mix
of spices, ground mustard, and mustard oil. How?

Lets start with the oxygen. Lactic-acid bacteria Often the vegetables are first partially
(our pickle makers) are facultative anaerobes, sun-dried, as you will see in the case of the
which means that they do not require oxygen. Cucumber Achar (page 126) and Daikon Achar
That doesnt mean that they cannot survive in (page 128). Then the other ingredients are
oxygen, but an oxygen-free brine bath keeps added and the mixture is placed in the sun.
the yeasts and molds and other party spoilers The sun does what the brine does in briny fer-
out. We also generally keep our ferments out ments makes the environment inhospitable
of the sun to keep them from getting too warm to mold and yeasts, in this case by destroying
too quickly. But in the case of achar, which hails them with UV light.
from the Indian subcontinent, the sun is a tool. Achar fermentation works for any vege-
table you can think of, from whole chiles to
cucumber achar green beans and radishes. Traditionally these
ferments are made with mustard oil, which has
antifungal and antibacterial qualities (along
with a whole list of health benefits). Mustard
oil can be found online or at Indian markets,
but olive oil makes a fine substitute.
YIELD: About 1 pints

TECHN IQUE : Pastes and Mustards (page 37)

H E AT I N D E X: 2

Chocolate-Cranberry Mole
A new favorite! Straight out of the jar? Yes, please! On a sandwich?! In a wrap? On a des-
sert (page 248)? In a plane? On a train? Absolutely.
If you dont have dried unsweetened cherries, you can substitute an equal amount of
additional dried cranberries.

4 cups (1 pound) fresh cranberries 1. Combine the fresh cranberries, dried cranber-
ries, cherries, chile powder, and cocoa powder
1 cup dried cranberries
in a food processor. Add the orange juice and
cup dried unsweetened cherries process the mixture to a paste consistency.
5 tablespoons (2 ounces) pasilla chile Sprinkle in the salt.
2. Pack the paste into a jar that is just the right
2 teaspoons cocoa powder size for your ferment, pressing out any air
pockets as you go. Leave about 1 inch of
cup fresh orange juice
teaspoon salt
3. Press a piece of plastic (or other cartouche)
against the surface of the ferment, being care-
ful not to trap any air beneath it. Screw the lid
down tightly.

4. Set the jar in a corner of the kitchen to fer-

ment, and watch for air pockets forming in
the paste. If you see any, open the lid and
press the paste back down. If the lid starts to
bulge, simply open it for a moment to burp the

5. Allow to ferment for 7 to 14 days. You will

know it is ready when the cranberries have a
delightful lemony flavor and all the flavors have
mingled together.

6. When it is ready, place a clean small round of

plastic or parchment paper directly on top of
the paste. Tighten the lid, then store in the
fridge, where this ferment will keep for up to
12 months.


YIELD: About 1 quarts

TECHN IQUE : Brine-Based Sauces and Pickles (page 34)

H E AT I N D E X: 3

KimcHi-Stuffed Jalapeos
These pickles are hot little kimchi packages. Red jalapeos make a visual statement
pretty in the jar and striking on the plate. The flavor is what we think a pepper kimchi
would taste like. After all, you are doubling up think chile pepper on chile pepper.

2 pounds red or green jalapeos (or other Follow the instructions for Carrot-Stuffed Hot
medium-size peppers, such as Fresnos or Peppers (page 187), using the kimchi to stuff
Hungarian wax peppers) the peppers instead.

12 cups fermented kimchi

12 quarts brine (2 quarts unchlor-
inated water with 4 tablespoons salt) A Handy Tool
Use a jalapeo corer to deseed any thick-walled,
cherry-shaped peppers (and keep some of the
capsaicin off your fingers!).
YIELD: 46 servings

lemon acHar Roast Chicken

This roast chicken is quick and uncomplicated, but the flavor is anything but. Feel free
to play around with other fiery ferments to season this roast. Use the leftover carcass to
make a chicken stock or soup the next day.

5 tablespoons Lemon 1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

Achar (page 129)
2. Chop 2 tablespoons of the achar and use it to coat the cavity
1 whole chicken (4 to 5 of the chicken. Then coat the entire outside of the chicken
pounds) with the grains of paradise and salt.
1 teaspoon freshly
3. Heat the oil in a deep, ovenproof lidded skillet or Dutch oven
ground grains of paradise
over medium-high heat. Carefully place the chicken, breast
(or teaspoon freshly
down, in the skillet and brown until golden, about 10 min-
ground black pepper
utes. Carefully rotate the chicken, trying not to rip the skin,
plus teaspoon ground
and brown the other side another 10 minutes or so. When
both sides are brown, transfer the chicken to a plate and
1 teaspoon salt set aside.
23 tablespoons
4. Toss the carrots, garlic, and shallot into the skillet and saut
sunflower oil
until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining
6 carrots, sliced into 3 tablespoons achar. Toss to distribute, then put the chicken
1-inch chunks on top of the vegetable mixture, breast facing up.

4 large cloves garlic, 5. Place the lid on the skillet or Dutch oven and transfer to the
smashed oven. Roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.
1 large shallot, sliced Check for doneness by cutting at the thigh joint and seeing
the juices run clear, or use a meat thermometer it should
read 165F (74C) when inserted into the thickest part of a

6. Remove from the oven and allow to sit, uncovered, for

10 minutes before serving. Serve the chicken and vegetables
with generous ladlefuls of the pan juices.