So you want to learn how to make pepper mash? Luckily, fermenting hot pepper mash is quite a simple process. Pepper mash is basically made from hot peppers that have been salted, ground and allowed to ferment with the lactobacillus bacteria. Preparing pepper mash is very much similar to making kimchi or sauerkraut that is an aged hot cabbage dish popular in Korea. Pepper mash is quite easy to make, as it is bacteria that does all the hard work.
Turning the peppers into pepper mash is another preservation technique. The capsaicin that is naturally present in the peppers, added salt and the resulting low pH of the outcomes makes it naturally resistant to spoilage.
Why Create a Pepper Mash?
You need to preserve the sauce a longer shelf life. The way you preserve it is by lowering the pH to approximately 3.4 which creates a more acidic solution and help prevent the growth of bacteria. There are two approaches to lowering the pH:
- Fermenting the peppers
- Using vinegar, limes, lemons (or a combination thereof)
Another great reason for creating a mash is that once your mash is ready, you can now use it and experiment to make a multitude of different hot sauces using different types of ingredients. The mash can act as you “base” heat.
Preparing Hot Peppers for Mashing
Peppers that are rotten with soft spots or even mold should be thrown right away. If you are growing peppers in your garden and do not have enough of these fresh peppers for mashing, you can freeze the fresh ripped peppers until you have enough of them.
Only use red or yellow (no green) peppers. Wash peppers with cold water and then remove the stems. Now grind or chop them using a meat grinder or a food processor. Process it to a medium level grind and not a puree. The pepper seeds should still be mostly whole.
Salt should be added by weight. Peppers t hat have a lower SHU rating require more salt compared to those with high level SHU rating. Hot peppers such as Habaneros use a minimum of 12 percent salt. Mild peppers such as Jalapenos use 15 percent of salt in the mashing process.
Aging the Pepper Mash
Now you need to put the salted pepper mash into a container and then pack it down. The container should be covered with a loose fitting lid. In case you are using a canning jar lid, it should be screwed on just half way. You should allow the pepper mash to sit for an hour. Stir and then pack again. Stir it once again in another house and then again after a period of 24 hours. Pack the pepper mash after each stirring.After 24 hours, you will see that the salt has drawn out sufficient liquid from the peppers to cover them while they are packed. If not, a bit of water can be added to cover the peppers.
Place the pepper mash in a cool location for further fermenting. Once you see bubbles in the mash, do not worry as they are the by-products of the fermentation process. How do you know if your mash is fermenting? The chopped peppers will start to rise in your jar. Look at the picture with the 2 jars of mash. Notice that the liquid is thin at the bottom in the jar on the left. You can see the mash has risen in the jar. It’s fermenting. Now, it’s a sit and wait process. Your peppers should ferment at least 2 months. Some say the infamous Tabasco company ferments for 3 years.