I started fermenting peppers two years ago when I planted a bunch of serrano, jalapeno, and a couple poblano pepper plants with some space left in my raised beds. It was a huge crop and ended up with several grocery bags full of peppers at the end of the year and I wasn’t even a fan of hot sauce. I love buffalo wings but when I am out I typically order mild or medium hoping for flavor rather than just heat (I think its blasphemy to put BBQ sauce on a properly fried chicken wing by the way). So man was I surprised how good the sauce came out. That combo of peppers fermented for a couple months was unbelievable, I started eating it on everything. It’s all flavor with a mild heat that isn’t heat for heat sake, it’s a little sour and salty, adds to mouth feel and pops on the tongue. I ended up bottling off most of ferment by Christmas that year in 5oz woozy bottles and gave it away as presents. I left about half a gallon fermenting throughout the winter and bottled it off around May. That was even better and I had people that I gave the gifts out to asking for more. I was able to give a couple refills (those bottles ain’t free you know) but I ran out of my stash early summer.
So, of course I went overboard last spring and put in 72 pepper plants in the garden. Mostly serrano and jalapeno, unfortunately only one poblano. However, I also put in about a dozen tabasco, a dozen Thai Chili and a six pack each of Cayenne and Anaheim. It wasn’t a bumper crop like the previous year, but I ended up with 8.5 gallons of peppers in fermenters. With my process I am getting about a 80% yield on sauce per gallon of ferment when you factor in the loss of solids from the seeds and skins that don’t make it through the food mill and then add back in ~30% vinegar. I missed Christmas this year and only got to process the first gallon and a half in February. The serrano/jalapeno only mix came out good but not as good as last years (I pureed the mash on the first two this year and didn’t do that at all last year). The second set I processed had cut up serrano/jalapeno/cayenne/Anaheim and the cayenne kinds stole the show and added that heat that was more than the flavor, but only slightly. The last mix I processed was the all tabasco ones, and they came out with really just heat that overpowered the flavor. I have shared it around and the guys that like heat thought it was great, but I was going for that flavor profile and missed it.
I still have the five gallon bucket to process and it has mostly serrano/jalapeno with a much smaller percentage of cayenne (sliced up, not a mash), so I am hoping that comes out like last years. I am going to have a ton of it, so I hope so.
I have a couple half gallons of all Thai Chiles left and a small pint of Thai Chilis that has the 6 habanero's I ended up with after a rabbit destroyed the plant I put outside my fenced garden (found the rabbit dead a few feet away - that'll teach em to eat my peppers). I don't even know what I am going to do with that (other than wear a full face respirator when I put in the blender).
I'm relatively new here and just saw this garden section of the forum and wasn’t sure if there was a big interest in pepper sauce (I read the other threads on it) on this site but I thought I’d post this while I am waiting for a conference call to start. I’ll check back and if anyone is interested I can post some details on the process I have been following. Here are a few pics: