Let’s face it, sriracha doesn’t have fruit in it. It is traditionally hot peppers, garlic, water (or vinegar for popular unfermented versions), salt, and sugar. It’s a fresh (uncooked) hot sauce from Thailand, and whether or not it was originally fermented (purposely or incidentally given the tropical climes) is a bit unclear.
The vinegar added today in most brands reduces pH and enhances its shelf life (and adds a good flavor in my opinion), but I’m inclined to believe that tang came from natural fermentation back then. A closer look at Thailand shows it is steeped in fermentation traditions.
It also surely didn’t contain potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, and xanthan gum, or other additives we find in contemporary mass-produced products.
If you want to make a traditional fermented sriracha, just click here. That recipe recommends red jalapenos (which is what the popular Huy Fong Foods brand uses) but the exact choice of pepper(s) is yours.
This recipe brings things up several heat notches with cayenne and red habaneros, but you can just use the red jalapenos or any other red peppers of choice.
Besides the standard garlic cloves, to build volume and make it more palatable for the average joe, I added in red bell peppers. (These aren’t necessary in my other sriracha recipe.) This was followed up with a 6 oz. container of raspberries, which by the end of the ferment adds a sour (as opposed to sweet) raspberry character.
I also planned all along to add another container of raspberries after the ferment, to “backsweeten” everything and complement the sour raspberry flavor with the sweet. This step is optional and can re-ignite fermentation with the introduction of fresh sugars and LABs (lactic acid producing bacteria), unless the ferment has reached a very low pH (around 3.2). This often takes at least a couple months of fermentation.
Another method is if you’ve gotten relatively close to 3.2, it can be coaxed the rest of the way through the addition of acids like vinegar or citric acid.
The most common method of eliminating the bacteria in your sauce (and thus any risk of pressurized bottles) is to cook the sauce in a saucepan. Make sure it achieves a strong boil, then cover and allow to simmer for at least 20-30 minutes.
If you prefer a raw sauce with the probiotic bacteria intact, another option is to simply keep it in the refrigerator without ever cooking it. Even if the ferment isn’t totally complete (hasn’t dropped to 3.2), you can blend in the fresh raspberry, let it stand at room temperature for a day, and then begin refrigeration. The cold temps will keep fermentation in check but you’ll notice the flavor will slowly change and develop over time. You’ll want to keep an eye on these sauces and open the cap from time to time. (Which shouldn’t be hard to remember since you’re going to want to put this on everything!)
Just note that a short ferment time of just a few weeks will make your raw sauces much more prone to build excessive pressure in the bottle unless they’re heat treated. Also, the flavor will be more complex and balanced if you ferment at least a month.
Want to know the pH of your sauces? The only way to know for sure is to use a pH meter. They can range in the tens of dollars to the hundreds, so you’ll want to look into customer satisfaction levels and reviews and consider what’s the best bang for your buck. This model is a good starting point.
So what do you think? Is sriracha with raspberry added still sriracha? Is it Razzracha? Srirazza? Whatever it is, it’s delicious, so let’s get started.
This recipe will yield about 20-25 fluid ounces of sauce.
You will need: quart jar (if you use a half gallon jar you can double the quantities of everything); knife and cutting board; latex gloves (for removing pepper seeds); blender for processing after the ferment (or other preferred saucing equipment); sauce funnel (recommended if using sauce bottles)
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 – 1.5 TBSP additive-free salt (use the higher end if planning a long ferment)
- 2 oz. cayenne peppers (~140-150g); stems removed (can retain seeds in ferment)
- 5 oz. habanero peppers (about 20 peppers or 150g); seeds & stems removed
- 2 sweet bell peppers; seeds and ribs removed
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 12 oz fresh or frozen raspberries (half in the ferment; half added after)
- Optional: 1 TBSP sugar at blending
1.) Dissolve the salt in the 2 cups water. This may be done by heating the water in a saucepan and adding the salt (then allow to cool to room temperature), or simply combining the salt and water in a sealed jar and shaking vigorously until the salt is fully dissolved.
2.) Lightly rinse all peppers in cool water
3.) Halve the habaneros and bell peppers and remove seeds (I don’t bother with the cayennes since the seeds are few and small); remove most or all the stems
4.) Chop all peppers into small pieces, but leave one of the bell peppers halved (don’t chop it further)
5.) Give each garlic clove a firm press with the side of a knife, remove the peels and rough chop
6.) Press the chopped peppers (except the large bell pepper halves), 6 oz. raspberries, and garlic firmly down into the jar
7.) Add enough brine so that the brine line is about 3/4 the way up the jar.
8.) Use the remaining two bell pepper halves as a cover to prevent small floating pieces from coming to the surface. You may need to trim them back to fit properly; it doesn’t all need to go in. Press down firmly. This will eliminate the need for a fermenting weight since (there likely won’t be room anyway).
9.) Add any remaining needed brine to fully submerge all the produce and the top bell pepper cover pieces. Pour slowly, a little at a time, ensuring that all brine is fully seeping into air pockets. Press down with a wooden spoon if needed.
10.) Cap the jar, preferably with a fermenting lid and airlock. Suggested wait time: two months.
11.) When you’re ready to stop fermentation, add the contents to your blender (or other saucemaking apparatus). Add 8 TBSP of the brine (nearly all of what is in the jar) as well, but try to avoid the bottom-most sediment as it can have a less desirable flavor.
12.) This is the point at which to add fresh berries. If you’re not planning on cooking and/or fermenting your sauce once blended (details below), you will want to drop the berries into slow boiling water for around 30-60 seconds, making sure all surfaces of the berries make contact with the water. This will ensure that no bacteria on the berries re-activates your ferment or otherwise leads to dangerous bacterial growths.
13.) Blend on high for a minimum of five minutes. Pulse for an additional two minutes. I recommend tasting the sauce. This is your chance to add other ingredients like sugar or vinegar. Do you want the sauce thinned out? Add 1-2 TBSP white vinegar (or water) and blend again. (Maybe raspberry vinegar?) Do you like your sriracha sweeter? Add a TBSP of sugar, blend again, and decide if it’s sweet enough. Repeat as desired. (For me the fresh raspberries provide enough added sweetness.)
14.) If you don’t wish to cook your sauce, you can bottle it and refrigerate. If it’s only been fermented a short while, note the additions of any sugars (including from the berries) will feed the LABs and continue to promote fermentation, albeit at a greatly slowed rate in the fridge. Monitor those bottles and use (or open) that sauce from time to time so pressure doesn’t build up!
15.) Optional: If you opt to cook your sauce, simmer it in a clean saucepan, stirring periodically for ten minutes (no oil!) and then blend again for 2-3 minutes. Note that cooking slightly affects the flavor too, perhaps softening it around the edges a bit, but it also locks in that flavor whereas continued fermentation will result in what I like to call an evolving sauce (think: aging fine wine).
A further step for extending shelf life would be to sterilize your bottles, bottle the sauce, and then pasteurize the bottles in a large pot of boiling water.
Here’s a quick guide for home pasteurizing: https://www.wikihow.com/Pasteurize
As discussed before, waiting at least a month or two is recommended for flavor and to reduce possibility of an active ferment once the fresh raspberries (and any added sugar) are blended in and the sauce is bottled. Then again, heat treatment will eliminate the possibility of fermentation altogether.
It’s worth noting some hobbyists or commercial sauce makers ferment their sauces for many months or years. Some recommend minimum six months to a year.
If you keep the jar fermenting for months, the low pH you will achieve will render the cooking process unnecessary from a standpoint of fermentation building up again. However, you may still opt to do so before bottling as a method to improve the texture of the sauce, following Step #15. Tabasco is fermented for three years before it is heat treated! These decisions are part of the fun of crafting your own sauces.
Looking for a super powerful blender that can give your sauces the perfect texture? A certified refurbished Vitamix Explorian may bring this outstanding product to within an acceptable price range.