the overflow truce lasted just a day, as bubbling cabbage juice began to appear in the center spout of the airlock. that's how it starts, and before i know it, the juice will leak into the airlock and then overflow out of the jar.
for lunch i heated up some more chicken corn chowder, before starting on my hot sauce recipe in the early afternoon. i bought 2 containers of scotch bonnet the same day i got all those ingredients for the chowder and sauerkraut. i thought they were on sale because they were in the past-due shelf, but they were just regular price, $4.99/lb. i ended up getting 2/3 lbs ($1.75/container).
i never made hot sauce before, which is surprising, because i love spicy food. when i was in chongqing, all the little restaurants had a jar of homemade hot sauce; no respectable restauranteur would buy it. there are all sorts of ways to make hot sauce, from cooking to fermenting, and all sorts of ingredients, but the general consensus seems to be hot peppers and salt. when i think about habanero hot sauce, the top of my lip starts sweating involuntarily from taste memories. these sauces are not only typically spicy, but also very vinegary sour as well. for these scotch bonnets - which come from the same family as habaneros - i wanted a thicker sauce, and not sour at all, more like the yellow lantern pepper hot sauce i got from hainan.
i was going to use all up the scotch bonnets to make a large batch of hot sauce, but decided to split peppers so i could experiment with two different flavors. after reading a bunch of recipes, i came up with a simple myself: chop up half the peppers (14) with a food processor, likewise do the same with a whole head of garlic (10 cloves), then add a tbsp of fine sea salt and 1/4 cup of chinese baijiu.
when i chopped up the scott bonnets the smell was insane, at times fragrant yet scary but i could sense how hot it was. even after washing the utensils and containers, they were still incredibly spicy when i test licked them. i knew i had small microscopic cuts on my hands but suddenly they hurt like somebody poured acid into them. at one time i even choked from the fumes, coughing and tearing up.
originally i was going to add 1 cup of baijiu, but that seemed excessive and might end up drowning the other ingredients. i think pepper plus garlic plus salt is enough for a good hot sauce, nothing else needs to be added. but i figured the baijiu would add another layer of flavor, and might help (or hurt) the fermentation. i went with 1/4 cup of baijiu, which even that seems like too much. if this recipe goes well, i might reduce the alcohol even more for future batches. i scooped everything inside a pint jar.
the second half of scotch bonnets i wanted to try something different, but i wasn't too interested in lot of the caribbean hot sauce recipes i found, they were all too vinegary and runny. i did try mixing a little bit of white vinegar with baijiu, but the flavor didn't appeal to me at all, so i decided not to use vinegar at all, letting any sour flavor come from the natural fermentation. the only thing different i did with the second batch was the additional of 1 tbsp of brown sugar. i figured maybe the sugar could neutralize some of the saltiness and spiciness, a more mellow hot sauce.
once the hot sauces were finished, all i had to do was wait for them to ferment over the next few weeks. i taste tested some of it, seems very delicious.
my uniqlo heattech long underwear arrived today. just in time, as i planned to go outside, experience some of that cold weather, and visit the dollar store to buy some soap. i do have soap at home, but it's in one of the boxes in my closet and to find it i'd have to tear the whole closet apart, so it's easier to just buy new soap. this also gave me a chance to look for something that could act as a fermentation weight. best bet would be a relatively-flat clear glass votive candle holder. i looked in every aisle of dollar tree, the closest thing i found was a heavy glass lid for a scented candle; i ended up not getting it, taking my chances in the hopes that the heavy fermenting would subside after a day or two.
as far as the weather went, it was cold, but warm and toasty in my new columbia winter jacket. the only part that was kind of cold where my legs, even with the new long underwear. the problem is my pants couldn't block the fierce winds (a few times i saw street signs rattling on their posts); i'd need something like ski pants to be total impervious to the elements, head to toe.
for dinner i had more chicken corn chowder. i'm starting to reach my limit. i added some cholula hot sauce to give it more flavor.
hoping to prevent another airlock overflow, i decided to replace the apple weight i had before and add a new one, thicker, so even if it floated, hopefully it'd still create enough headspace so the sauerkraut juice won't try to go up the airlock. i'm only able to do this because i have plenty of apples in the fridge i don't plan on eating (i'm such an apple snob; they're red delicious if you're curious, but i find those sort of bland). unfortunately the thicker apple weight seemed to have no effect in preventing an airlock overflow: 4 hours later, before i went to bed, i noticed the airlock was filled with ferment juice. so much for the apple weight!
the outdoor temperature when i finally went to sleep was 10°F, but i heard it was going to drop even further, down to 3°. occasionally i heard the house buckling from the freezing temperature, which made me nervous. tomorrow friday is supposed to be another cold and windy day, with temperature slowly increasing to the freezing point for the snow we're due to have saturday morning.