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Fermented Chili Pickles

Updated: Jun 28

Cayenne peppers fresh picked
Peck of Peppers


from the Korean Natural Farming Kitchen

By far, my main source of vitamin C is hot chili peppers. The garden produces them faster than I can eat them. So I came up with a basic recipe for an aerobic lactic acid fermentation, similar to Fermented Plant Juice, FPJ. Then I upped the flavor with a few yummy ingredients for a Fancy Pants Pickled Chili recipe. This is a food recipe inspired by Korean Natural Farming. Enjoy!

First I remove the stems and seeds from freshly picked chili peppers. My favorite chili pepper is cayenne and I like to cut lengthwise into strips. They look very attractive packed upright in a jar.

I don't always like the full heat so I remove the seed membrane to calm them down. I remove all of the membrane if I want a mild batch, although I find I eat them very quickly when I make them this way. The membrane can be left intact for full chili heat. I normally opt for a medium heat batch and remove most, or at least half of the membranes.

It's an easy way to control the heat of even the hottest pepper. I like to temper the heat of really hot and super hot chilis like habaneros and ghost peppers. Peppers like these have warm sweet profiles. Tempering the heat allows me to enjoy the fruity flavors of these super hot chilis without excessive pain.

I then put the chili slices (they can also be done whole, just cut off the stem to open them up) into a jar, leaving one third airspace. If I were making an FPJ I would add sugar to start an aerobic wild fermentation. In this case I use sea salt instead of sugar. I finish the jar with a light sprinkle of salt, and cover with a breathable cloth.

The amount of salt to use will vary according to the size of your jar. Generally, you should add enough salt to look like a donut sprinkled with sugar. The exact amount is not critical because this recipe uses no water so you don't need to worry about any contamination.

The salt will pull out the juices and the juices start to ferment. After a few days I notice a little white just starting to form on the edges. This is the time to add vinegar. Use any culinary vinegar that will pair well with the chilis. I've used red wine, apple cider, and moringa vinegar with great results. I fill to the top. I don't use any water. The vinegar make a salty brine which will continue to ferment.

Fermenting Chilies
Fermenting Chilies

In this photo you can see the juices fermenting. Note the bubble on the lower right. You can also see the white film starting to form in the center of the photo, indicating it's time to add vinegar to the brine.

After filling the jar with vinegar i cover the jar with a lid. The acid and salt causes corrosion of the lid so I line the lid with baking paper. The brine will continue to bubble for some time. I try to leave the jar for at least one month.

They improve with age and remain crisp and don't get mushy. The longest time I've kept a jar was over two years. I was nervous about trying them but the pickled chilis were not only still crisp, the flavor was better than any of the shorter time pickles batches.


Fermented Chili Pickle Recipe
Fermented Chili Pickle Recipe

There are many things you can add to pickled chilis. In my family tradition that would be carrots. Smashed garlic and peppercorns are also good. I eventually came up with a smashing good combination I call Fancy Pants Pickled Chilis. Add the ingredients to taste.

Chili peppers, sliced, seeded, membranes removed to taste. Use cayenne, green chilis, or any other favorite.

Carrots peeled and cut into small carrot sticks to match chili slices for eye appeal. Sliced round if you prefer.

Garlic, smashed.

Green peppercorns, fresh or in brine. Black peppercorns can be substituted but green are better.

Apple, peeled and minced or sliced.

Arrange ingredients in jar in any attractive way, leaving one third airspace. Add sea salt during packing, sprinkling a small amount on top. Large crystal salt (rock salt) seems to be best form of sea salt to use but fine grain also works. Cover with a breathable cloth. Check on it daily.

At the first sign of a white film forming on the edges, fill the jar to the top with culinary vinegar. Line the lid with baking paper and close the lid. The pickles will continue to ferment for several days. Wait at least one month before using. (This is the hardest step) Enjoy!


After (and during) enjoying pickled peppers the brine is perhaps my favorite part. I add it to many dishes instead of salt. It adds a lot of subtle flavors. It helps tenderize stew meat. It's delicious in salad dressings. I even take a small sip as a digestive aid.

So there you have it. Pickled Chili Peppers for the win, based on the technique for Fermented Plant Juice, FPJ.

What are your favorite Chili Peppers? Try this method and let us know what you think. Share any other ingredients you used. I can't wait for mango season to try a batch of mango chili pickles. I'll bet green mangos in this will be divine.

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1 Comment

I just wondering. How much salt? Should it be a little salt like sauerkraut? About what ratio?

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