Ah, spring has sprung here in Georgia! And although the local strawberries are not quite ready, delicious berries from our wonderful neighbor to the south, Florida – my birthplace – are here in abundance and at reasonable prices.
If you’ve ever perused this site and the sauce recipe section, then you already know I’m a sucker for sriracha hot sauce (and specifically fruit sweetened sriracha). Sriracha, whether bought in the store or home fermented and sweetened with fruit, always proves to be a crowd pleaser and extremely versatile.
My original fermented sriracha recipe, by the way, contains lots of additional information about things like pasteurizing versus keeping raw, achieving the right heat level for you, and more. I do offer some guidance for that towards the end of this recipe, but if you want to further increase your knowledge of sauce-making, I would refer you to that recipe and my other posts in the sauce section.
In this instance, I really just want to get you straight to the recipe, so here we go:
This recipe is for one quart jar (a true microbatch!) of fermented produce. You’ll add more fresh strawberries and some other ingredients after the ferment is complete, resulting in almost 30 oz. of sauce. If you want a larger supply, just double up the quantities and use a half-gallon jar.
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 tsp salt dissolved into 1 cup filtered or distilled water
- 1 lb. red jalapenos (for slightly weaker, sub red fresnos, for slightly stronger, red serranos), seeds & stems removed
- 1/3 lb. Thai red peppers (can replace with similar peppers like tabasco or cayenne – if you can’t get a different variety of hot red peppers such as one listed here, just use more red jalapenos); due to the small size, I didn’t both with seed removal
- 1 small red bell pepper (150 g), cut in half with ribs & seeds removed
- 4 oz. strawberries, tops removed
After the ferment:
- 12 oz. strawberries (I bought one pound – 16 oz. – and kept 12 oz. in the freezer for after the ferment)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 TBSP garlic powder (7 g)
- 1 TBSP to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste; optional, can add more if the strawberries aren’t very sweet)
- 1 cup retained ferment brine
1.) Rough chop all the produce but keep the small bell pepper in 2 or 3 large pieces.
2.) Place the smallest and lightest produce items (e.g. Thai peppers & strawberries) in the jar first, so they are less likely to float to the surface.
3.) Finish adding all the produce to the jar, packing it down as you go. Then slowly add the brine, allowing time for it to reach to bottom before adding more.
4.) Once the brine is approaching the shoulder of the jar, add the bell pepper slices, using them as a kind of weight and cover to keep everything submerged under the brine.
5.) Once you are confident all the produce is under the brine and immobilized, cap the jar. Since this will be a tight fit, I highly recommend using an airlock lid so that no brine overflows. In either case, I recommend storing your jar in a soup bowl to avoid potential spillage as strawberries tend to create very active ferments.
6.) Ferment at room temperature away from sunlight anywhere from one to three months, or longer as desired. The longer you wait, the more complex and deep the flavor will be, and the lower the pH you will get. (This means an increasingly longer shelf life. If you have a pH meter, aim for something below 4.0. Although 4.6 is shelf stable, remember you’ll be adding fresh strawberries after the ferment, which will increase the pH.)
7.) Once you are ready to process the sauce, place all the produce in the blender. If you can manage not to turn the jar upside down, this will help keep any spent bacteria at the bottom of the jar, which tends to carry less desirable flavors.
8.) Pour one cup of the brine into the blender, as well as the other post-ferment items (12 oz. strawberries; garlic powder; vinegar and optional sugar). Blend on high until smooth, 1-2 minutes. (You may refrigerate the sauce but beware fermentation will probably continue in your bottle(s), so open the cap to release gas pressure periodically).
9.) For heat processing and to improve the texture: Heat processing the sauce will kill the probiotic bacteria but lock in the flavor, enhance the consistency (texture) of the sauce, and prevent further fermentation from occurring in your bottled sauce, which can lead to explosive bottles. Instead of directly refrigerating the sauce (which greatly calms a raw ferment but can’t stop fermentation), pour it into a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 10-20 minutes. Return to your blender and process on high for around five minutes, periodically pulsing. At this point you can bottle the sauce, or opt to pasteurize by boiling the bottle(s), then fill them with sauce, and then boil them for ten more minutes.