Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Share My Kitchen
There’s an end goal if you have been growing jalapeños: homemade fermented jalapeños for salsa. It’s going to be amazing if you can grow enough jalapeños for all your salsa this year.
Now, if you do end up with more jalapeños than you needed as they are more prolific than sweet peppers, you don’t want them to go to waste.
For a few practical reasons, you can choose to ferment the extra jalapeños:
Reason #1: Fermenting vegetables can be done quickly and easily
Reason #2: Fermented foods offer the best nutrition.
Reason #3: Pickled jalapeños intensifies the flavor, and the spice mellows just enough to make these little peppers taste even better than if they were raw, cooked, or part of a salsa.
Fermented jalapeños are fast becoming one of the best fermented foods. It can also become your favorite way to get your probiotics regularly.
What Makes Fermented Foods Healthy?
Fermented foods, particularly vegetables, are one of the healthiest foods. You get not only all the nutrients from the vegetable, but also a healthy dose of probiotics (or good bacteria) with every bite.
These probiotics are extremely beneficial for your gut flora. A healthy gut filled with beneficial bacteria is essential to maintaining overall good health and a strong immune system.
How Fermentation Works
Simply put, fermentation is when beneficial microbes break down sugars and starches found in foods, and convert them into lactic acid (or, alcohol in some cases).
Fermentation captures beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts that can be found in the air and the food. As they digest the sugars, the microbes produce carbon dioxide. This is why many fermented foods are bubbly and carbonated.
So, CARBONated came from CARBON dioxide. Right? Anyone else feel like an “Aha!” moment?
The fermentation process, essentially, is an organic process that can occur with or without human intervention. Over thousands of years, however, people have learned to harness the power of fermentation to preserve and prepare all kinds of foods. This has helped to shape the food we eat, humanity, and the culture every person lives in.
Consider this: without fermentation, beer, wine, bread, cheese, pickles, yogurt, or vinegar would not have been invented.
And, you wouldn’t have the fermented jalapeños recipes you are about to read.
How to Make Fermented Jalapeños
Fermented jalapeños can be made in a matter of minutes. You only need the jalapeños, some water, and pure salt (sea salt, kosher salt, or pickling salt).
Table salt with iodine and/or anti-caking agents should not be used as they contain added chemicals that can interfere with fermentation.
This recipe yields a quart, and it requires 3 cups of sliced jalapeños, 1 quart (4 cup) of water, and 2 tablespoons. However, you can halve, double, or multiply this recipe to make as many fermented jalapeños as you like!
First, bring the salt and water to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the salt you added has dissolved. Then, set it aside, and let it cool while you cut the jalapeños.
Slice the jalapeños. But, be mindful when you do as the capsaicin in the seeds can burn your skin if you’re in contact with them for a long period. Wear gloves, or use a plastic baggie to protect your hands.
Next, add all the jalapeños to the mason jar (quart-sized), and cover with the salt brine after it has cooled to room temperature, or slightly warmer. Use a fermentation weight to weigh down the jalapeños. Then, place a fermentation lid or a coffee filter over it.
Allow the jar to sit at room temperature for at least 5 to 7 days, and up to 2 to 3 weeks. Check the flavor every few days to ensure that it is to your preference.
Once you are satisfied with the flavor, seal the jar. Then, store it in cold storage or in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Technically, fermented jalapeños can be stored in the refrigerator for more than a year, and they will continue to be safe to consume. However, the quality of the jalapeños will start to decline over time, so it’s best to consume them within the first few months.
How to Keep Fermented Vegetables Submerged in Brine
As with all fermented vegetables, it is important to keep the jalapeños submerged under the brine. They could become moldy and become inedible if they are exposed to the air.
So, you don’t have to worry as long as your vegetables are submerged under the brine.
To keep them submerged, you will need to weigh them down. You can use clean rocks to weigh down your ferments if you are using small mason jars (4oz). However, you can invest in fermentation weights. It can cost around $25, but they are a game-changer, and it is highly recommended.
They are called pickle pebbles. You are going to love them because these can fit perfectly in your jars, and they weigh down your ferments effectively. So, no more worries about any vegetables floating to the top.
Moreover, these don’t stick out of the jar, and stop you from using a lid or coffee filter to keep fruit flies away (but, fruit flies don’t get attracted to these spicy fermented jalapeños). It is completely unlike using smaller mason jars to weigh down your ferments.
Coffee filters are a great way to cover any fermenting jars. This keeps insects and dust away, while also allowing ferment to breathe and expel excess carbon dioxide, so it doesn’t build up.
The coffee filters work well, but you can also consider investing in some fermentation caps fermenting enough. These are as cheap as the fermentation weights, and might be more effective than coffee filters. However, filters are great if that’s what you have on hand.
How to Know the Jalapeños Are Fermenting and Not Rotting?
Fear of doing something wrong and making themselves or their family sick makes people avoid fermenting on their own. However, it’s almost impossible to get sick from fermented food because they are high in good bacteria, which makes them safe by nature. Keep in mind that good bacteria keep the bad bacteria at bay.
Sometimes, ferments can go wrong and spoil food. If this happens, you’ll notice a strong smell and visible mold growth on the top of the jar.
In most cases, you can skim off the mold, and throw away any moldy vegetables. Then, everything else submerged in the brine should be fine.
You will be able to tell if a fermented vegetable has gone bad if it has an earthy, moldy flavor.
Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell if the ferment has gone bad right away, and you won’t want to eat it. You shouldn’t have a problem, however, with mold as long as the jalapeños are submerged in the brine.
The jalapeños will change in color as they ferment longer; they will turn from a bright green color to a muted, olive-green color. And, the brine may turn cloudy and have white streaks. This is normal, and it indicates that the fermentation process is going well.
How to Use Fermented Jalapeños
There are many ways you can use fermented jalapeños! You can add them to homemade nachos, tacos, chilli, pizza, salads, burgers, and other foods that would benefit from some spicy heat. And, a healthy dose of probiotics!
However, you should not cook them. The heat from cooking can destroy the probiotics that make fermented food so healthy. Instead, you can use them to garnish, or top your food after cooking.
Or, if you prefer spicy food, grab a fork to eat it straight from the jar. But, keep a glass of milk handy to cool down your mouth.
- 1 quart water
- 3 cups jalapeños, sliced
- 2 tablespoons salt (pure kosher, pickling or sea salt)
- First, add water and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir until the salt is fully dissolved. Take the saucepan off the stove, and let it cool.
- Cut the jalapenos into 1/4-inch thick rounds, and leave the seeds and pith intact. Place the sliced jalapenos in a clean mason jar. Then, once the salt water brine is cooled, pour it on top of the jalapenos until they are completely covered. The brine should be at room temperature, or slightly warmer, but not hot.
- To keep the jalapenos submerged under the brine, place a fermentation weight over them. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or a fermentation lid, and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 5 to 7 days, and up to 2 to 3 weeks. You need to taste it every few days until you are satisfied with the taste.
- Once you are satisfied with the flavor, cover the jar with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator or cold storage for up to one year.