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Can I Fix Fermented Hot Sauce If It Has Been Diluted With Water?

Asked by RebeccaNixon. Answered on 3rd June 2023

Full question

I made a batch of Nigella’s Fermented Hot Sauce (from Cook Eat Repeat) and I used the “water in a ziplock bag” method of weighing down the ferment, and the water has leaked out. Now it (obviously) tastes watered-down. My partner has suggested boiling it down. Is there any way to save it?

Cover image of Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
Fermented Hot Sauce
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's Fermented Hot Sauce (from COOK, EAT, REPEAT) is made by mixing chillies, garlic and ginger with salt and then leaving it to ferment. This is called lacto-fermentation and is caused by lactobacillus bacteria that produces carbon dioxide and lactic acid. The acid lowers the pH of the mixture, which helps to preserve the ingredients as well as giving the sauce an extra flavour dimension.

The quantity of salt is very important for the fermentation process and although you can use a salt solution for fermenting, you need to ensure that there is a proper concentration of salt in the solution. So it would depend on how much water leaked into the jar and how diluted the mixture had become as to whether it was safe to eat or not and that can be difficult to judge. If you did not discover the leakage of water for a couple of days and the mixture smells or tastes rancid or has mould on the surface then it should be discarded and if you have any doubts about the fermentation process then it is better to discard the mixture.

Unfortunately we can't recommend boiling the mixture, but please bear in mind that boiling will kill off any fermentation process and affect the storing of the sauce.

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