19 July 2020

Fermented Chilies

Brine fermented or lacto-fermented chilies - a fantastic flavour addition to any meal, whilst boosting your gut health and preserving your chilies too! Unlike typical pickles which use a hot solution of water, vinegar, salt and sugar, brine ferments simply use water and salt, they are also raw and fermented, containing good bacteria, or probiotics - essential for gut health. These are also pretty easy to make, with less than 15 mins prep which I take you through step by step below and then 1-2 weeks almost entirely hands-off fermentation time, with just a quick burp each day (partly releasing the jar to let the gases out).

Chilies, chillies, or chiles, however you may spell them are such a key flavour to so many meals. These brine fermented chilies are similar in flavour to pickled chilies - a little salty and tangy with some heat too. You can use them raw as a topper like pickled jalapenos in tacos and salads, blend to make your own fermented hot sauce, use in your favourite dishes instead of regular chilies or even use the brine for a flavour hit in dressings and marinades, including my personal favourite - a fermented (cultured) cashew cream cheese.

This recipe is super customisable too - use your choice of chilies, I used medium size as I prefer the heat and flavour, but if you're a heat aficionado, use your favourite for that added kick. I ferment these whole, but if you prefer you can always remove the seeds after fermentation but before you use them - the heat level remains quite similar pre and post ferment in my experience. I added onion, mustard seed and bay leaf, but you could add any whole spices or flavours you like, such as garlic, ginger or cardamom for example. You can also replicate this process with other veg like cauliflower, carrots or green beans, for a wonderful addition for sandwiches, salads etc. 

Brine fermentation - i.e. salt and water promotes fermentation through the naturally occurring bacteria lactobacillus, which breaks down the sugar in the veg into lactic acid, resulting in that tangy flavour you associate with fermented foods. The salt solution kills off harmful bacteria initially, allowing the lactobacillus to thrive, with the lactic acid acting as a natural preservative. Once fermented, these chilies can be stored in the brine in the fridge for a few months, though the flavour may change slightly over time, becoming slightly more sour.

If you're planning on making fermented hot sauce or cultured cashew cream cheese you'll need to ferment these chilies first, so get going, ferment and pop in the fridge and use as you need! I'll be sharing the recipe for my cashew cream cheese in the next few weeks!

For a little bit more on why fermented foods are so fantastic for our health and another fermented recipe and some top tips on fermentation, check out my Turmeric Sauerkraut recipe here. If you make this recipe or any of my others - please do snap a pic and tag me on social media or stories @euphoricvegan with the tag #euphoricvegan. 

Fermented Chilies | Yield: 500g chilies | Prep time: 15 mins | Fermentation time: 1-2 weeks

You'll need 

  • 2L clip top jar
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Large jug
  • Cabbage leaf + chunk of the core / fermentation weights / sealable plastic sandwich bag*
  • Spoon
*It's important the chilies are fully submerged in the brine, so you'll need something to weigh it down. My personal favourite is using a cabbage leaf and a chunk of the core, but if you have fermentation weights you can use these. Alternatively, you can partially fill a sandwich bag with water, seal it and place on top of the chilies to keep them from floating up and ensure they're fully submerged during the fermentation.


  • 500g chilies (I used medium, mixed colour chilies)
  • 1L water
  • 2.5 tbsp salt (42g)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds


  1. Gather your equipment and ensure it's all clean - a little hot soapy water will do the trick - no need to worry about sterilising. Also, give your veg a rinse and be sure to wash off any visible dirt.
  2. Place the chilies whole into the jar, arranging as you like.
  3. Then peel and slice the onion and place on top of the chilies, along with the bay leaves and mustard seeds.
  4. Add the salt to the water and stir until fully dissolved, then pour over the ingredients in the jar until just below the rim. Don't worry if you have a little brine leftover, this will depend on the size of your chilies. 
  5. If using cabbage to weigh your chilies down, place the leaf over the surface and then place the wedge of core on top, so the core just touches the top of the jar when closed, keeping the chilies fully submerged. If using weights, place over the top to cover the opening of the jar and if using the plastic bag method ensure this is heavy enough to weigh it down and covers the opening of the jar. 
  6. Place in a spot in your kitchen away from sunlight on a plate or a tray (this helps to avoid any spillages during fermentation if it's really active), this will take 1-2 weeks to ferment. If it's warmer your fermentation is likely to be more active and ready sooner, but in winter months, the full 2 weeks is recommended. 
  7. Each day you'll need to burp your jar (this may be twice a day in the first few days) - to do this, place one hand on the lid and gently apply pressure and with the other hand briefly open the metal clip - you should hear a hissing sound.
  8. After 1-2 weeks, remove the weight from the chilies and use as needed. Store in the fridge for up to a few months and enjoy!
Cassidy xx