Update: Refermenting Hot Sauce (WIth Air Locks).. 3 Months and Counting

In September we were fermenting like wild – especially hot peppers and hot sauces.  In late September we shared that we were taking a few of our hot pepper concoctions, tossing an airlock on the top and letting them continuing to ferment.  Two of the three jars were left as-is and we added whole garlic cloves to another (effectively making a pickle within a pickle).

Update: Refermenting Hot Sauce (WIth Air Locks).. 3 Months and Counting Pepper (Hot) Hot Pepper December

It’s been a full three months since we started our experiment and I’m pleased to share that all 3 have remained shelf stable and continued to develop their flavor.  I’ve tasted all three an am pleased to share that they are:

  • fantastic
  • getting better
  • appear completely stable

The ‘refermenting’ with the airlock is significant because it allows a more complex flavor, offers the ability to store them on the shelf (as opposed to in the fridge) and the airlocks have prevented mold that can appear if food ferments too long.

The flavor has developed further.  If you’re a fan of fermented food, you know that it has a unique taste; hot peppers become a w unique combination of savory, sour, salty and rich.  I was afraid that the extra fermenting would be overwhelming.  The airlock slows fermenting and the result isn’t outlandish at all.  The most interesting result has been the peppers that had the garlic added to them; the time has brought the flavours together and rather than tasting like hot sauce with pickled garlic, it tastes like hot-pepper-and-garlic sauce.

Update: Refermenting Hot Sauce (WIth Air Locks).. 3 Months and Counting Pepper (Hot) Hot Pepper December

The process has been simple – I have learned to check the water level in the airlocks.  I’ve had to top them up two or three times because of evaporation.  If you let them evaporate completely, oxygen will enter the jars and you are prone to develop mold.  If that happens (it did happen to me once in one of the jars), skim the mold off and continue (this is common in ‘regular’ fermenting).

I’m really happy with the results so far and I plan to continue the experiment to see what will happen.  I’m also tempted to add some further flavor to layer in other tastes (but so far, I’m resisting).

Have you ever fermented anything for a long time (with or without an airlock)?  Would love to hear about your experiences if you have!


  1. Hi Joel. Recently found your blog and am loving it. Just a question for you about this refermenting…. I assume you did not add vinegar before you refermented? Once you decide that your refermenting is over, how then will you use the sauces? Will you add vinegar and/or reserved brine to them before use?


    • Hi Alicia!

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Your answers are all correct! Although the fermentation is moving very, very slowly right now (it is stablilized with the airlock), there is still some fermenting going on. Placing it in the fridge will pretty much stop the fermting altogether (and also stop the mold that would form if you kept opening and closing it and left it on the counter).

      So we’ll be left with some wonderful hot pepper essence. From there we can play, as long as we store it in the fridge. It’s not being waterbathed so I don’t have to worry about acidity. Fermenting offers wonderful latitudes like this.

      most friends and family who eat the sauce, love it as is. sometimes a strain a bit or put some in a small jar with vinegar and/ or brine (about 50-50 is great) and sometimes I just mix brine with vinegar. The biggest downside is that our small fridge contains a lot of jars. :)


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