With so many hot peppers filling tables at the markets I can't help but pick more up each week. The Aylmer Sales Barn is always a great place to source bushels of peppers from sweet bells and shephards to the blackish-purple poblanos and red crimson hots. A few farmers and home gardeners are also trying their hands at growing different varieties of chilis and the variations are all welcome in my larder because just about every global cuisine utilizes heat and spiciness in some way - with flavours and aromas from more than just green jalapeños.
After all the salsa, stuffed peppers, pickled peppers, drying, plastic gloves, can't-fall-asleep-because-my-hands-are-on-fire, chili-steeped vodka, and especially the 'how hot is it?' game, it's nice to play with a recipe that uses a large amount of chilis with only minimal work required. Fermented hot pepper relish has quickly become my new favourite go-to condiment.
Encompassing everything I like in a rustic sauce (salty, fresh, fruity, spicy, smoky & tangy), the relish is a great accompaniment to chicken, sausages, burgers, steak, perogies, nachos, eggs, or spread on a sandwich. Because it is fermented for just a couple of days, the relish retains the fresh vegetal flavours at the same time it matures and ripens.
I'm usually a purist when it comes to chopping - I rarely use a food processor. Processors don't chop the food pieces evenly; some ends up pureed and some ends up in large pieces. Because the processor can break down the food so small, a lot of water is released as well. In places where the food size and moisture content is integral to the dish I chop by hand - even if it's a large quantity.
In the case of the fermented hot pepper relish, the food processor is my best friend. Small pieces are what I desire and they don't have to be perfect little brunoise. Also, the water that is released from breaking down the cell walls aids in creating a brine which will cover the peppers while fermenting.
I used a mixture of jalapeños, Portuguese chiles, crimson hots, poblanos, and one single Moruga pepper (yes, the hottest pepper in the world!) but feel free to use what you have available. If you prefer the relish a little tamer, substitute a few sweet peppers for any of the chiles.
Fermented Hot Pepper Relish - Recipe
Makes 1.5 L
10 Jalapeños, seeded
6 Poblanos, seeded and roughly chopped
1 quart Portuguese chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
1 quart Crimson Hot chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
4-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T smoked salt (or kosher salt)
4 T kombucha, whey, or pickling liquid
Finely chop the peppers (each type individually) in a food processor. Place in a large bowl. Finely chop garlic and add to bowl. Stir in salt and pickling liquid until combined.
Spoon into a large jar and cover with a lid. Place in a dark place at room temperature for 3-4 days or until mixture is starting to bubble. Place in refrigerator and allow to sit for at least one week before consuming. Store in one large or several small jars.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.