I'm kind of psychotic when it comes to spicy foods. If I'm not crying, drooling, or praying for air, it's not hot enough. So when I heard about a make your own fermented hot sauce kit from FarmSteady, I knew I had to see for myself just what kind of damage I could do. (From the founders of Brooklyn Brew Shop, FarmSteady doesn't just offer DIY hot sauce kits; they also have DIY cheese, bread, and pickling kits, too.)

Fermented foods have an umami quality that adds incredible depth to any dish: think about that sweet-but-sour-but-savory taste that pickles have, or the slight tang you get from a piece of really good Parmgiano Reggiano; that's umami. So, fermented hot sauce means that you now have a condiment that has more developed flavors in addition to being, well, hot.

The best part about these Farm Steady kits is that they're completely customizable: make it sweeter, make it spicier, it's totally up to you. Add whatever combination of peppers, fruit, or vegetables, top it with your pickling liquid, and let it sit for two to three weeks. There ya go. Fermented hot sauce.

I went with habanero peppers, because those are the hottest variety my mother is legally allowed to have in her garden. To add some sweetness, I threw in some slices of mango, as well as a couple of bell peppers, just because. I also added a couple dashes of liquid smoke, for an added layer of flavor, but feel free to skip over that. Remember, this is totally customizable, so do your thang. After adding all of my ingredients to the fermenting jar, I topped them with the fermentation weight, and poured a brine of water and salt on top.  Screw on the lid, pop in the airlock, and let sit for at least two weeks. Then, pour all of the contents into a blender, and blend to your desired consistency.

Note #1: You have to fill the airlock with water. The directions on their website don't specifically say to do this, and neither does the pamphlet that came with my kit. Water ensures that the jar is sealed, and wards off any sort of bacteria or mold that could grow.

Note #2: If at the end of your two weeks, you notice some funky white film floating along the top of your jar, don't worry about it!  It's just some friendly yeast that came to chill with your veggies.  Feel free to scoop the film off, or pour it into your blender along with the veggies and brine.

Fermented Habanero Mango Hot Sauce

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:14 days
  • Total Time:14 days 10 mins
  • Servings:0
  • Easy


  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 8 habanero peppers sliced into rings
  • 7 mini sweet bell peppers sliced into rings
  • 1 large white onion sliced
  • 1/2 a very ripe mango cubed
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
Alexandra Cavallaro-Tringali
  • Step 1

    Combine the water, salt, and liquid smoke in a small bowl, stirring until the salt dissolves. Set aside and let it come to room temperature.

    water, beer, iced water, ice, glass, water cup
    Jocelyn Hsu
  • Step 2

    Slice and cube the peppers, onion, and mango and add them to the pickling jar.

    Alexandra Cavallaro-Tringali
  • Step 3

    Place the pickling weight on top of the pepper mix, and pour the room temp brine on top.

    Alexandra Cavallaro-Tringali
  • Step 4

    Seal the lid, pop the airlock into the hole, and set aside at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least two weeks, three at most.

  • Step 5

    Pour all of the contents of the mason jar into a blender or food processor, with 3 tbsp of white vinegar. Process to your desired consistency, and package into mason jars. Alternatively, cook down your hot sauce to thicken it up before canning it.

    Mayleen Zhagnay

Each fermenting kit is $35, with FarmSteady's other kits (like cheesemaking and bagel-making) coming in at $25. Each kit includes a half gallon fermenting jar, a fermentation weight, an airlock, and kosher salt. $35 feels heavy when you're essentially only paying for the jar, weight, and airlock (assuming everyone has kosher salt), and that's because it is: I've fermented veggies and made hot sauce before in just a good ole sterilized mason jar. But these kits would make a great gift for just-learning home cooks, or as a fun project for the kitchen-inept (it's the holidays, people!)