Made with only 2 ingredients but packed with so much fiery flavor and healthy enzymes, these lacto-fermented jalapeños make a great condiment to accompany any dish.
Our fridge is always stocked with these fermented jalapeños. They're great as a lovely condiment to tacos, nachos, salads, breakfast eggs, or any other favorite dish. It's a delicious way to effortlessly incorporate more ferments into your diet.
Fermentation is also a great way to preserve the summer harvest. So if you have a bumper of jalapeños growing in your garden, this recipe is the perfect way to preserve those peppers to last you most of the upcoming year.
It keeps them firm, yet tangy and spicy the entire time.
Lacto-fermentation is a metabolic process in which glucose from food source like vegetables or grains is converted into cellular energy producing good bacteria.
The process of lacto-fermentation destroys the bad bacteria in the first phase and produces good bacteria, Lactobacillus in the second phase.
Salt is incredibly important for the formation of lactic acid bacteria. Since the bad bacteria does not tolerate much salt, lactic acid is formed as a natural preservative for flavor and integrity of the fermented product.
Fermenting jalapeños is one of the easiest ferments you'll make. The key is to use enough salt to destroy the bad bacteria during the fermenting process. The salt water brine will become cloudy as the friendly bacteria consumes the carbohydrates found in the vegetables and converts it to lactic acid.
Why would I want to ferment jalapeños?
Lacto-fermentation is far superior to any other type of food preservation method because of its high count of beneficial bacteria and health benefits. Fermented foods is a powerful antioxidant, great way to support gut health, and is overall a gentle support for the immune system.
Good to Know: Because different strains of Lactobacillus have different strain-specific health benefits, it's important to vary lacto-fermented foods.
What do fermented jalapeños taste like?
Fermented jalapeños are deliciously spicy and perfectly tangy. You will love these fiery peppers! They have a rich depth and are packed with tons of flavor. They are savory and fiery and yet perfectly balanced with a sharp, pickled tang and subtle saltiness.
The texture is similar to that of pickled jalapeños but overtime (after 6+ months), will slowly soften. If properly fermented, they should still retain their texture though as the salt acts as a powerful preservation.
What are the ingredients in fermented jalapeños?
- Jalapeños: look for smooth skin with no blemishes or dents
- Sea Salt: good quality, unrefined sea salt is important
- Warm water: bring water to a boil first to make sure it's sterilized then cool to tepid temperature, warm enough to dissolve salt
If desired, you may add fresh garlic and bay leaves for extra flavor.
Make it Nutrient-Dense: You can make any meal more nutrient dense by adding a wild fermented food like these jalapeños as a garnish or condiment.
Helpful tips for successful fermentation
- During the fermentation process, keep your jalepeños at a comfortable 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and out of direct sunlight.
- You can ferment Lacto-fermented jalapeños at room temperature for 3-6 weeks, depending on your preference for tartness. I usually transfer mine to the refrigerator after 3 weeks.
- You may use the leftover brine from a previous ferment like sauerkraut or fermented salsa as as "starter".
- Make sure all jalapeño slices are fully submerged in the salty brine. Using fermentation weights like these helps with that. You may also use a few cabbage leaves to push all the peppers down.
- After approximately 48 hours of fermenting, you should start seeing lots of bubbles produced and you will need to burp the jar to release some of those gasses. Burp the jar daily for the next week or so until the brine becomes muted and cloudy. Use this opportunity to make sure that everything is in the brine.
Frequently Asked Questions & Tips
If fermented properly, these jalapeños can last up to 12 months in cold storage like the refrigerator. I recommend consuming these jalapeños within 6 months for best flavor and maximum probiotic benefits.
Pickled jalapeños usually uses the pasteurization process which inevitably destroys the live microbes naturally found on vegetables. Pickled jalapeños also often uses white vinegar. Lacto-fermentation, on the other hand, is considered wild fermentation which uses the natural microorganisms found on the jalapeños to assist in the fermentation or culturing. This creates healthy gut-friendly enzymes in the process.
The best salt to use for all fermentation is unrefined, real sea salt. Salt is the star of this easy recipe because without it, we wouldn't be able to naturally ferment the jalapeños. I love Redmond's fine sea salt.
This recipe is specific to jalepeños but you can use the same framework to ferment most any other pepper: serrano, chili, banana peppers. I would strongly suggest using peppers that are not bagged as those are usually triple washed and lack the natural microbes found on vegetables. If using bagged peppers, add a tablespoon or two of a kraut source like sauerkraut or a previous ferment to kick start the fermentation process.
A good rule of thumb to remember: always use high salt concentration for lacto-fermentation to avoid bad bacteria growth. The bad yeasts cannot tolerate salt. If a white film (called kahm yeast) is developed on the surface, just skim it off the top and your peppers are still safe to consume. Kahm yeast is normally opaque and crinkly looking.
Never eat anything with mold growing on it. Toss the food immediately if you see any kind of mold growth that looks fuzzy, pink, blue, or green.
To store: After the room temperature fermentation, it's a good idea to swap out the stainless steel lid for something like this wooden storage lid or a wide-mouth plastic lid. The salt will react with the stainless steel overtime and erode the metal lids.
Helpful Tip: Make sure you use a quart jar with a wide mouth as the peppers will naturally rise to the top during the process of fermentation.
How to make Fermented Jalapeños
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience.
This fermented jalapenos recipe calls for these very basic ingredients: fresh jalapeños, sea salt, and warm water.
Step 1. Prep the jalapeños
Wash and dry the jalapeños. Cut the peppers into ¼" thickness, discarding the stem. Leave the pith and seeds for extra heat.
Transfer sliced jalapeños to a clean quart-size wide mouth jar.
Step 2. Make salt water brine
In a bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the salt in warm water. Gently pour over jalapeño peppers.
Step 3: Ferment the jalapeños
Make sure all peppers are fully submerge in the brine. Close the jar and set aside at room temperature away from direct sunlight. A fermentation weight or a few cabbage leaves helps keep everything submerged.
After 48 hours, begin daily burping the jar to release the carbon dioxide gasses. You will continue this for at least 2 weeks.
Do a taste test to make sure you capture that perfect tang and sourness and at this point, transfer the fermented jalapeños to the refrigerator.
Helpful Tools & Links
Below are some links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store but it helps to have a link so you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, glass weights
- Ingredients: real salt
- Storage Supplies: wide-mouth mason jars for leftovers, Weck preserving jars, wide-mouth plastic lids, wide-mouth wooden storage lids
Looking for more lacto-fermented recipes? Here are some ideas: Fermented Salsa (Pico de Gallo) Easy Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles Okroshka with Yogurt Classic Sauerkraut
What to eat with Fermented Jalapeños
These lacto-fermented jalapeños are great on just about any food. Enjoy these fiery peppers with these recipes:
- Sheet Pan Nachos
- Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas
- Pulled Pork Breakfast Skillet
- Sheet Pan Breakfast
- Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Lacto Fermented Jalapeños
- 2 cups jalapeño peppers, sliced approximately 1.5 pounds
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 3 cups warm water
- Rinse and slice jalapeños into ¼" thickness and transfer them to a quart size jar.
- In a bowl or measuring cup, dissolve salt in warm water. Pour the salty brine over the sliced jalapeños, making sure they are fully submerged.
- Close the jar and set aside at room temperature but away from direct sunlight. After 48 hours, begin daily burping of the jar to release carbon dioxide gasses. Do this for the next 2 weeks making sure all the peppers are fully submerged.
- Transfer to refrigerator once the jalapenos have achieved the perfect tang to your preference. This may take anywhere between 2-5 weeks.
- Recipe makes 1 quart (48 servings). One serving is approximately 1 tablespoon.
- Fermented jalapenos will last up to 12 months in the refrigerator but it's best to consume within 6 months for best flavor and maximum probiotic benefits.
- If white film on surface of the brine forms, that is wild yeast called kahm and is totally harmless. Simply skim it off the top and proceed with the fermentation process.
- Using a fermentation glass weight or few cabbage leaves is helpful to keep all the sliced jalapenos submerged.
- After fermenting, it's best to switch out the lid with a plastic or wooden one so the salt doesn't erode the metal lid.
The information shown is an estimate provided for your convenience by an online calculator. It should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our complete Nutritional Information Disclaimer.
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This post was originally published December 2016 but has since been updated to include helpful information.