The Goods

Recipe: Wood Fermented Hot Sauce

How to master one of the hottest food trends right now.

How to master one of the hottest food trends right now

One of the hottest trends in the culinary world right now is fermenting. In fact, most of us eat fermented food all the time without knowing it. Yogurt, cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut and even some sausages and hot sauces are all delicious ferments. Chef Joel MacCharles stopped by The Goods to talk tips and tricks for mastering this technique at home and he shared this spicy recipe from his cookbook, Batch.

Wood Fermented Hot Sauce

By Joel MacCharles

Making your own hot sauce is fantastically simple and a great gateway to preserving. If you’re a chili head but haven’t worked with hot peppers, these recipes are a perfect place to start!


  • 4 lb hot peppers (mix and match for more complex flavours!)
  • 6 tbsp coarse salt
  • 3 whole bulbs garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1-2 quarts filtered water

To prepare:

  • Large container such as a crock or cookie jar
  • A plate to use as a weight to submerge the peppers
  • 2 cups wood chips
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen gloves


Cut the tops off the peppers. I use gloves for the entire process but always manage to rub my eyes... or worse!

Place the garlic in your fermenting vessel. Add the peppers then the salt and use your hands to mix.

Place your weight on top of the peppers and let sit overnight, covered loosely. Toss the wood chips in a large colander and shake to remove any small bits. Optional: toast the wood chips in a frying pan, stirring often. This can get smoky if you don’t watch it closely.

Pour the wood chips (cooled, if you toasted them) onto a sheet of cheesecloth. Create a tea bag by tying the cheesecloth multiple times. You don’t want it to open, as wood chips will be almost impossible to remove from the sauce and will ruin it. Place the wood chip tea bag under the weight, and add water to submerge everything.

Ferment for five to thirty days, checking the brine daily after two or three days. Remove the wood when you are happy with the taste; if you leave it in for the entire time, it may become too “woody.” As with any ferment, remove foam or mold as it appears. The peppers will soften in time; I move to the next step at the first sign that some have gone limp.

To make the hot sauce, puree the peppers in a blender. Add more brine to smooth the flavors (it is arguably the best part). You can also cut it with up to 50% vinegar.

Place in clean jars and store in the fridge. It makes 2 quarts pure hot sauce, 4 quarts if you dilute with vinegar to lessen heat.

Eat within 2-3 years.

Notes: Some like to strain hot sauce so that it’s liquid. I prefer the body of this sauce. If you do strain it, use the solids for dehydrating or in chili salt.

Leftover brine? Use it to marinate meat or tofu, or reduce to make a spicy concentrate.

Excerpted from Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips & Techniques for a Well-Preserved Kitchen by Joel MacCharles & Dana Harrison. Copyright © 2016 Joel MacCharles & Dana Harrison. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Servings: Makes 2 quarts


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