My fruit sriracha explorations continue. This was made with sweet frozen black cherries. Frozen foods have marketing challenges in that they may seem inferior to fresh. But there are some good things about frozen:
- They’re economical. The lower price stems from the fact that the shelf is much longer, so there is less loss of sales due to reduced product spoilage.
- The flavor and vitamins are locked in. Whereas canning is another economical form of food preservation, frozen produce is frozen very soon after it is picked, resulting in a very comparable product to fresh in all regards except texture.
- When frozen produce thaws, its cell walls have broken down substantially. Regarding ferments, this actually means the flavor will distribute very thoroughly, and the final blended sauce will be very smooth. Using frozen fruits is a great way to go about making wine too.
- Frozen cherries are very convenient for one simple reason: you don’t have to worry about pitting or stemming them.
- Lastly, frozen produce will ferment just fine. Lactobacillus in the main doesn’t die in freezing temperatures, it just goes dormant. If you’re concerned about a ferment not taking off adequately due to freezing, you can always add in some fresh produce. In the case of this recipe, it’s not even necessary, because most of the produce is fresh from the hot peppers.
So grab yourself a pound of high quality frozen cherries (I’d recommend a well-received organic brand) – or go pit a bunch if that’s what you’re after, this pitter will do six at once – and let’s do this!
This recipe was a quart microbatch and filled about five woozy bottles; just double the quantities for a half gallon.
You will need:
- Quart jar
- Knife & cutting board
- Kitchen gloves for handling peppers
- Saucepan & wooden spoon (if cooking sauce after ferment)
- Recommended: airlock lid and fermentation weight
- 2 cups distilled or filtered water
- 1.5 TBSP additive free salt
- 1 lb. red jalapenos (or other hot red peppers of choice), halved, seeds & stems removed
- 1 lb. Thai red chilies (or other hot red peppers of choice), stems removed (seeds optional)
- 16 oz. sweet cherries (4 oz. in the ferment; 12 oz. added at blending), frozen or fresh (note that if using fresh, 16 oz. is the net weight AFTER the seeds are removed, so you’ll likely need more like 2 or more lbs.)
- 2 tsp garlic powder (post-ferment) OR 6-8 cloves fresh garlic in ferment
- 1 TBSP sugar (post-ferment)
- Optional: splash of white vinegar (post-ferment)
1.) Rinse and prepare the peppers as described above.
2.) Add the cherries and Thai chilies to the jar, and garlic if using fresh, followed by the larger jalapeno pieces.
3. Prepare the salt brine either by combining the salt in warm water and allowing it to cool, or shake them together vigorously in a tightly sealed jar. Then slowly add the brine to the ferment vessel.
4.) About an inch before the jar is filled to the shoulder, add the weight, and continue pouring brine until all produce is submerged. It is important to have some distance from the top, as the water level will continue to rise as the produce releases moisture.
5.) Apply the airlock lid and ferment for desired length. Suggested: Minimum one month. The pictures shown feature a nearly 3-month ferment.
After the ferment:
1.) Strain the brine from the peppers.
2.) Transfer the peppers to the blender, add 1/2 cup of the reserved brine, 12oz. thawed frozen cherries, sugar, and garlic powder (unless fresh cloves were used in ferment). Blend on high for a few minutes. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add additional brine, blend, continuing to add brine and blend until desired consistency is achieved.
3.) You may now store the sauce raw in the refrigerator, or go on to cook and/or pasteurize it.
Raw sauce: This method preserves the probiotic bacteria in your ferment. If you can test the pH and confirm it is 3.2 or below, there will be no issues. If the pH is above this level, it is possible the added sugar and cherries can restart the ferment, which can create excessive pressure in the storage container. It is not suitable for mailing or room temperature storage. If you are close to 3.2, you may add vinegar until the correct pH is achieved. If not, refrigerator storage is an acceptable method, but the container should be monitored and the cap periodically loosened to release potential pressure build-up.
Cooked sauce: Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmering covered for around 20 minutes. You may then opt to blend the sauce further in the blender for several minutes while hot, which will create a very smooth, easily flowing sauce. You can add a splash of vinegar for flavor and to further reduce pH as well. To transfer to 5 oz. woozy bottles, use a bottling funnel.