In the fall, tempted by the aroma of roasting chile, we line up to get our bagfuls and prepare the chiles to freeze, extending the harvest as long as we can. This recipe provides an alternative method for preservation and is an opportunity to dip your toe into fermenting peppers. There are many possibilities, from the additional ingredients you choose to the salt concentration in your brine to the length of time you ferment your peppers—and fermenting peppers, of course, leads to developing hot sauces.
Fermented Green Chile
- 2 pounds fresh green chiles, rinsed and sliced
- 3 tablespoons fine-grain sea salt
- 1 quart unchlorinated water
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- Pack pepper slices and garlic cloves tightly into 2 clean canning jars. They should reach the shoulder of the jar.
- Dissolve salt in unchlorinated water. Pour your salt water over the peppers to cover. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace from the opening of the jar. The brine needs to cover all the peppers, so if you need more brine, make more at the same ratio of 3 tablespoons sea salt per quart of water.
- Use a knife or chopstick to poke through as many air bubbles as possible and place a weight on top of the peppers to ensure they are completely submerged in the brine. (If you don’t have a weight, you can use a sterilized plastic bag filled with water.) Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean towel and close the jar.
- Set in a dark place (a pantry is perfect) for 5–7 days, burping the ferment a couple of times daily by loosening and tightening the lid. After 5 days, try your ferment and choose to continue fermenting longer (up to a month) for a deeper, mellower flavor and softer texture, or refrigerate to stop the fermentation.
- Your fermented peppers should smell peppery and pleasantly sour. They should taste tart, savory, and spicy. Never eat a ferment with mold growing on it. Fermented peppers will keep in the refrigerator for several months.