I'm making Nigella's Fermented Hot Sauce recipe (Cook, Eat, Repeat) as a gift for someone. I've never fermented anything before. Everything went in the jar yesterday. My question is, does it matter if a few drops of water entered the ingredients when filling up the zip lock bag? I don't believe this happened, but I think a few drops may have emerged when I 'burped' it today. After burping, I'm surprised at how much liquid is around the chopped chilli, garlic, and ginger. It is covering the ingredients. Is this right?! It seems an awful lot and a huge increase from yesterday. I just want to be sure I'm doing it right early on because I don't want to have a mouldy mess after 14 days!
Nigella's Fermented Hot Sauce (from COOK, EAT, REPEAT) covers chopped chillies, garlic and ginger with salt. The salt dissolves and draws out moisture from the vegetables, making a brine and this should be the liquid covering the chillies in the jar. The brine should form fairly quickly.
During fermentation the vegetables need to be kept fully submerged in the brine. Nigella uses a strong plastic or freezer bag filled with water, though you can also buy fermenting weights to use. If only a couple of drops of water enter the jar then although this is not desirable it is probably not enough to change the ratios of salt in the brine. However if there is a risk that the bag is leaking at all then it could be a problem. You could replace the bag with a new water-filled one (and even double-bag, if that reassures you) and put the old bag of water in a bowl and leave it to see if it is leaking at all. If it is leaking then you may need to discard the chillies if a lot of water has leaked into the jar. Fermented vegetables should smell a little sour, but if they smell rotten then they should be discarded.