Fermented hot pepper sauce

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Yooper

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I have several friends who got me into fermenting hot peppers and creating various hot sauces. @Braufessor is mostly responsible, but so are @lschiavo and @toast26.

Hot peppers are hard to come by here in the UP, as we don't have much of a growing season for it, but my son-in-law gave me quite a few nice ones and I bought a few.

One of the small things I've learned is to stick with one color family. If you mix red, orange, and green peppers, you will get a brown hot sauce.

The other thing I've now come to know is that straight pepper sauce is HOT. I mean, way way too hot.

This one is a good example of being way too hot. I mixed carrots with it, as well as onions and garlic, but I packed the jar tightly (like I was making sauerkraut or kimchi) and had little brine to blend it with, and even diluting it later and adding vinegar, it is WAY too hot to enjoy.

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When we made one before our HomebrewCon seminar to serve, we used a LOT more brine and used some peppers and a bit of pineapple, and that one was awesome. I wanted something hotter, so went way overboard this time!
 

Braufessor

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One thought if you have some "way too hot" hot sauce...... this is a good website, with lots of different hot sauce recipes. You could look through some of these, and find some that look interesting to you. Basically mix up the base sauce ingredients (with none of the hot peppers) and then use your "too hot" sauce and add a bit at a time to get the sauce to the heat you want. One sauce that I really liked last year was the Datil pepper sauce - kind of a ketchup type sauce. But, you might find some inspiration here for a base sauce that you want to try and then just use your sauce that you already have for the "heat."
https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/chili-pepper-recipes/hot-sauces/

Oh - and remember - you can always add more heat, but you can't take it out:)
 

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@Cyclman, while waiting for Yoop, I’ll share a recipe I like and actually bottled today.

Normally I don’t use Carolina Reapers but I was given 1/2 oz of fresh off the plant so I added them.

1 lb red Fresno chilies
1/2oz CR’s
1/4 of a yellow onion
4-6 cloves garlic
6oz red wine vinegar

Ferment chilies in salt brine for 3-4 weeks. Cook onion and garlic until soft. Add fermented chilies (discarding most of the brine) and vinegar then simmer real low for 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender and bottle.
 
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@Cyclman, while waiting for Yoop, I’ll share a recipe I like and actually bottled today.

Normally I don’t use Carolina Reapers but I was given 1/2 oz of fresh off the plant so I added them.

1 lb red Fresno chilies
1/2oz CR’s
1/4 of a yellow onion
4-6 cloves garlic
6oz red wine vinegar

Ferment chilies in salt brine for 3-4 weeks. Cook onion and garlic until soft. Add fermented chilies (discarding most of the brine) and vinegar then simmer real low for 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender and bottle.
Sounds great!
 

sweetcell

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been getting into the sauce myself lately... below are versions 3 and 4, both based on mango + habanero. i really like having chunks in my sauce (also a good way to avoid making a brown sauce if you're mixing different colors: pull the odd-color out, blend everything else until liquified, chop up the odd-colored item fairly finely then add to blended base).

hotsauce3+4.jpg hotsauce3pre.jpg hotsauce4pre.jpg
 
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I can get hold of super tasty Fatalii peppers locally, if I wanted to try making a fermented hot sauce flavored with those, would a good base be jalapenos, serranos, etc.? Only tried fermenting hot sauce once before, the onion and garlic we included totally ruined it.

Edit: after a bit of reading, above and elsewhere, I should have used less onions and garlic, and cooked them first! :p
 
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I can get hold of super tasty Fatalii peppers locally, if I wanted to try making a fermented hot sauce flavored with those, would a good base be jalapenos, serranos, etc.? Only tried fermenting hot sauce once before, the onion and garlic we included totally ruined it.

Edit: after a bit of reading, above and elsewhere, I should have used less onions and garlic, and cooked them first! :p
@Braufessor is an expert with fermented hot sauces, and I know he did a fantastic sauce with so many different peppers that I'm green with envy.

I don't have acces to fatelii, but a friend sent some to me and I love the taste of them and think they'd be great!
 
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Just started making fermented hot sauce and can't believe how great it tastes. Started with beer. Then started making kombuca. Now I'm fermenting hot sauce. What's next?
Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Wine. Cider. Cheese.
Just for starters...............
 
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Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Wine. Cider. Cheese.
Just for starters...............
Yes ma'am. I'd say the ultimate, is fermented meat (e.g., salami). Save that for last. I'm fermenting rice right now, a saki endeavor. Two batches going, different processes. But that's another thread.

I've fermented hot sauce and didn't like it as much as fresh. Tho, I did go a little too far with the fermentation.
 

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Oh crap, something else to ferment. My wife isn't gonna be happy but she insist I brew less and nothing over 5 gal. Well, I happen to love pepper sauces and a batch or two of pepper sauces is way less than 5 g so, it's on. I'll blame you guys when she figures it out.
 

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I just finishing putting my first batch of fermented hot sauce together about an hour before even thinking to look on here for tips! I'm excited, but thinking back on how (not) well my first beer turned out I'm cautiously optimistic.

Garlic, ginger, orange bell, a couple mini sweet reds, some carrot, a smoked/dried New Mexico chili, 2 delicious peaches, 6 or 8 habaneros and a scotch bonnet. 3% brine. I'm hoping for a sweet heat that is an appealing shade of brown lol.

I need to quickly figure out how to get an airlock attached to the lid of the mason jar though. I thought it would be as easy as drill a hole, insert grommet/gasket thing, stick airlock in. Come to find out (after everything was in the brine) my largest drill bit is too small :mad: that will be a project for tomorrow.


Anyway, @Yooper my wife and I just got back from a road trip up through the UP and loved it! We camped at Sleeping Bear Dunes a couple of nights, Spent another couple of days camping and kayaking around Pictured Rocks and made our way back home to Nebraska. I love it up there...I'm not a big fan of those Pasty things though lol
 
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I just finishing putting my first batch of fermented hot sauce together about an hour before even thinking to look on here for tips! I'm excited, but thinking back on how (not) well my first beer turned out I'm cautiously optimistic.

Garlic, ginger, orange bell, a couple mini sweet reds, some carrot, a smoked/dried New Mexico chili, 2 delicious peaches, 6 or 8 habaneros and a scotch bonnet. 3% brine. I'm hoping for a sweet heat that is an appealing shade of brown lol.

I need to quickly figure out how to get an airlock attached to the lid of the mason jar though. I thought it would be as easy as drill a hole, insert grommet/gasket thing, stick airlock in. Come to find out (after everything was in the brine) my largest drill bit is too small :mad: that will be a project for tomorrow.


Anyway, @Yooper my wife and I just got back from a road trip up through the UP and loved it! We camped at Sleeping Bear Dunes a couple of nights, Spent another couple of days camping and kayaking around Pictured Rocks and made our way back home to Nebraska. I love it up there...I'm not a big fan of those Pasty things though lol
Oh, you were in the neighborhood and didn't stop by?!?!?
I'm not a pasty fan either- but I think most people who are aren't local so you're probably an honorary Yooper.

I ended up buying a couple of lids that fit wide mouth mason jars, along with some weights to make my life easier. Lids But I also have many more jars, including a gallon pickle jar, that I drilled holes in the lids for airlocks too. I use a coffee filter with a rubber band for kombucha, but for many others I use an airlock.

I don't know if I mentioned it (?) but I just was a technical editor of a book that is called Fermentation Kitchen, which should be coming out next month I think. He has some great explanations and recipes in there on hot sauce (among other things).
 

sweetcell

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I can get hold of super tasty Fatalii peppers locally, if I wanted to try making a fermented hot sauce flavored with those, would a good base be jalapenos, serranos, etc.? Only tried fermenting hot sauce once before, the onion and garlic we included totally ruined it.

Edit: after a bit of reading, above and elsewhere, I should have used less onions and garlic, and cooked them first! :p
i have added a bit of raw onion to a hot sauce fermentation and it turned out fine. i guess the trick is not too much, or cooking it if adding too much. i LOVE garlic in my sauces, won't make it without it.

Garlic, ginger, orange bell, a couple mini sweet reds, some carrot, a smoked/dried New Mexico chili, 2 delicious peaches, 6 or 8 habaneros and a scotch bonnet. 3% brine. I'm hoping for a sweet heat that is an appealing shade of brown lol.
be careful with the ginger. i have included some in the fermentation, but have pulled out most if not all before blending. the one or twice slices that i leave in get blended first, and thoroughly. i'm not a fan of getting a ginger surprise - stuff can really take over.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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This just occurred to me, but since I put two peaches in my fermenting jar is there any way I can make sure I'm not just making hooch? Or, is there any way I can test for alcohol when the peppers are done fermenting?

be careful with the ginger. i have included some in the fermentation, but have pulled out most if not all before blending. the one or twice slices that i leave in get blended first, and thoroughly. i'm not a fan of getting a ginger surprise - stuff can really take over.
fortunately, I really enjoy ginger so I have a high tolerance for it. But, I can definitely see how it can get overwhelming. We'll see how this batch turns out. My concerns with this batch (my first batch) is that since I included some peaches it will end up turning to alcohol instead of a lacto fermentation. Two days in the fermentation is rocking pretty well so I do think it has become a yeast fermentation. Time will tell, I guess.
 
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This just occurred to me, but since I put two peaches in my fermenting jar is there any way I can make sure I'm not just making hooch? Or, is there any way I can test for alcohol when the peppers are done fermenting?



fortunately, I really enjoy ginger so I have a high tolerance for it. But, I can definitely see how it can get overwhelming. We'll see how this batch turns out. My concerns with this batch (my first batch) is that since I included some peaches it will end up turning to alcohol instead of a lacto fermentation. Two days in the fermentation is rocking pretty well so I do think it has become a yeast fermentation. Time will tell, I guess.
Don't worry about making alcohol- you're doing a lactobacillus fermentation here, and while there is always wild yeast around, the lacto will be the fermenter. Even if some wild yeast got going, it won't do much with a couple of peaches.
 

sweetcell

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what yoop said - alcohol production will be minimal, if at all.

if you want certainty that there is no alcohol: pasteurize your blended sauce before packaging. my method is to blend my sauce in a saucepan (!), once liquified i turn on the stove-top and heat the mix to at least 180*F (sometime go as far as boiling it, but that can get a little messy). the alcohol will boil off pretty quickly, especially if you mix. let the pan cool, then package. the pasteurization helps with shelf stability.
 

sweetcell

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Two days in the fermentation is rocking pretty well so I do think it has become a yeast fermentation.
yo, lactobacilli can rock out with their rods out - they can get quite active. i've have over-filled hot sauce fermentations bubble up through the air lock and leak on to the counter (i now always have a plate under the mason jar to catch any spill-over). i wouldn't take an active fermentation as necessarily a sign that you've got yeast.
 

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Thanks for the encouragement, guys and gals! It's funny: I'm well over 50 batches of homebrew/cider and jumping into hot sauce gives me the same noob anxiety I got with my first few batches of beer lol. Alcohol production (or the consumption of, at least) isn't really my concern. A few websites with instructions on lacto fermentation I was reading from warned that alcohol will kill your lacto and cause all sorts of problems. None of this seemed quite right, considering I have ~50 gallons of 7-10% sours in my basement doing their thing. I should have disregarded everything they were saying when they started stressing the importance of *sterilizing* everything with star-san. Thanks for the sanity check!

@Yooper - I had considered reaching out to you and begging you to let us pitch a tent in your yard while we were up there. We threw the trip together in about 36 hours so we neglected to make any campsite/hotel reservations. I've never seen so many 'No Vacancy' signs! We got lucky and found spots where/when we needed but it was a stressful adventure finding them. I'm sure we'll be back in the neighborhood again, with a properly planned trip next time!
 
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Thanks for the encouragement, guys and gals! It's funny: I'm well over 50 batches of homebrew/cider and jumping into hot sauce gives me the same noob anxiety I got with my first few batches of beer lol. Alcohol production (or the consumption of, at least) isn't really my concern. A few websites with instructions on lacto fermentation I was reading from warned that alcohol will kill your lacto and cause all sorts of problems. None of this seemed quite right, considering I have ~50 gallons of 7-10% sours in my basement doing their thing. I should have disregarded everything they were saying when they started stressing the importance of *sterilizing* everything with star-san. Thanks for the sanity check!

@Yooper - I had considered reaching out to you and begging you to let us pitch a tent in your yard while we were up there. We threw the trip together in about 36 hours so we neglected to make any campsite/hotel reservations. I've never seen so many 'No Vacancy' signs! We got lucky and found spots where/when we needed but it was a stressful adventure finding them. I'm sure we'll be back in the neighborhood again, with a properly planned trip next time!
I always have a spare room available! We sold our lake cottage, so no special place to stay, but always a spare room and beer on tap and good wine (and kimchee and/or hot sauces and other foods). next time!
 

dawn_kiebawls

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i've have over-filled hot sauce fermentations bubble up through the air lock and leak on to the counter
My airlock lids and weights finally showed up today so I put a weight in and set up my airlock. 30 minutes later I looked over and it was dripping brine from the airlock all over the counter. I can't say I wasn't warned...my wife was less upset about this little mess than my second batch of beer: high proof Saison with a mega starter of 3711. Filled my 7 gallon bucket with about 6.5 gallons of wort and let it rock in the corner of our brand new apartment. It blew its' lid, stained the white carpet, painted two walls and the ceiling. We did not get our security deposit back lol.

Anyway, I took this as an opportunity to taste the brine and it was a very pleasant heat, but almost zero trace of peach. Hopefully the sauce provides different results. Time will tell!

Thanks again for the all the help, as always!
 

sweetcell

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Anyway, I took this as an opportunity to taste the brine and it was a very pleasant heat, but almost zero trace of peach. Hopefully the sauce provides different results. Time will tell!
taste of brine <not equals to sign> taste of finished hot sauce. some flavors get into the brine easily/quickly, some don't. i suspect the peach flavor is still bound up in the peach solids. they'll come out when you liquify.
 

sweetcell

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My first batch of pepper sauce. Serranos with a little Anaheim.
look like you shredded your peppers before fermentation - have you tried that before? any advantages or issues vs. fermenting larger pieces? i ask because i've only ever fermented large chunks... for example, i cut habaneros in half (after de-seeding them).
 

sweetcell

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do folks here have thoughts or feeling about vinegar vs. brine when it comes to blending?

of my 4 attempts at making hot sauce only #3 has apple cider vinegar, others are all brine. i'm thinking that i like vinegar for sauces that don't feature a flavor other than peppers. i've read that apple cider vinegar can bring out the fruitiness of your sauce, but vinegar can really take over a sauce. maybe next batch i'll try a 50-50 mix...
 

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do folks here have thoughts or feeling about vinegar vs. brine when it comes to blending?

of my 4 attempts at making hot sauce only #3 has apple cider vinegar, others are all brine. i'm thinking that i like vinegar for sauces that don't feature a flavor other than peppers. i've read that apple cider vinegar can bring out the fruitiness of your sauce, but vinegar can really take over a sauce. maybe next batch i'll try a 50-50 mix...
I'm not 100% positive but I believe vinegar is primarily added to adjust the pH of your finished sauce below 4.5 for it to be shelf stable, more so than it is to adjust the flavor or viscosity of the finished sauce. I'm hoping to avoid using vinegar where I can because it does have a tendency to overpower other flavors, but I'll use it to adjust pH if necessary.

I'm obviously still a complete novice so take this with a grain of salt, but I think that's the gist of it.
 

enkamania

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look like you shredded your peppers before fermentation - have you tried that before? any advantages or issues vs. fermenting larger pieces? i ask because i've only ever fermented large chunks... for example, i cut habaneros in half (after de-seeding them).
It’s my first batch, so I was following a recipe that said put them in the food processor.
 

sweetcell

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I believe vinegar is primarily added to adjust the pH of your finished sauce below 4.5 for it to be shelf stable,
i read that too, but it was in relation to unfermented sauce. some folks just blend up a bunch of raw peppers (and other stuff) and cook the mush, so the pH of the sauce is the same as any veggie - i.e. prone to rotting - hence the need for pickling.

i haven't tested the pH of my hot sauces nor the brine (will do next time). however, i'm pretty confident the pH was below 4.5. lacto can take a kettle sour down to the low 3's in 24 hours, so despite the lack of 100*F heat i'd be shocked if it wasn't taken down to at least 4. while our hot sauces aren't kept warm like a kettle sour, they do have the benefit of time. i let me sauces ferment for 4 to 6 weeks.

in the context of fermented hot sauces, i read was that the use of vinegar was a preference thing: some like it, some don't (they pejoratively refer to such sauce as "vinegar bombs"). the author recommended using apple cider vinegar with fruity hot sauces, personally i think it works best with a more "straight-up" hot sauce - the vinegar tang does a good job of taking the place of the fruitiness, IMO. definitely need to play around more with the fruity/strong flavor vs. vinegar thing, and also adding different amounts of vinegar vs. brine.

more so than it is to adjust the flavor or viscosity of the finished sauce.
for my sauces, i need to add some sort of liquid when i blend otherwise the sauce turns out way too thick. i wonder what other liquids could be used... beer? wine? spirits? acidic fruit juice? coffee?!?

I'm hoping to avoid using vinegar where I can because it does have a tendency to overpower other flavors, but I'll use it to adjust pH if necessary.
if you end up testing the pH of your sauce and/or brine, please post the results here. i'm currently sitting on about a dozen bottles of hot sauce so might be a little while before i set up another batch...
 

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So I found myself with an abundance of peppers this summer and decided to give a few sauces a try. So far, not bad, but on my most recent batch I was given a few poblanos after I had already started fermenting the peppers. Would I be able to roast these poblanos and add them at blending for some extra flavor? Or will having non-fermented peppers give this a drastically short shelf life/cause other issues?
 

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That sounds like a great idea. When you say shelf life I am thinking your water bathing, and that requires the sauce to be 4.6 pH or lower. Most of mine are in the 3.2-4 pH range. If you start with a lower pH adding some roasted should be OK. After mixing let it sit a couple hours then check the pH.
 

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Just add them in to the batch and let them ferment. By now you have built up a large enough colony of lacto that it won't have any problems fermenting a few extra peppers.

My current experiment batch is fermenting along nicely. I used about 30ish scotch bonnets and a beet root (mostly for color). I'm going to use that jar as a starter to ferment a chunk of ginger, some red bell peppers, an orange and bag of cranberries that I will smoke with some apple wood. I'm hoping for a spicy, tangy holiday sauce. I'll post back and let you know how good (or bad) it is.
 

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Just add them in to the batch and let them ferment. By now you have built up a large enough colony of lacto that it won't have any problems fermenting a few extra peppers.

My current experiment batch is fermenting along nicely. I used about 30ish scotch bonnets and a beet root (mostly for color). I'm going to use that jar as a starter to ferment a chunk of ginger, some red bell peppers, an orange and bag of cranberries that I will smoke with some apple wood. I'm hoping for a spicy, tangy holiday sauce. I'll post back and let you know how good (or bad) it is.
First off, that sounds amazing!
Second, I had thought about that but I’ve had these peppers fermenting about three weeks. I was debating doing the blending, then putting it back into a jar for a week or so at room temp before adding a splash of vinegar and refrigerating. It’s a really bastardized batch of peppers, haha.

In between my posts, a coworker dropped off about ten Anaheim peppers that I need to figure something out for.
 

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latest batch: salsa verde! CSA tomatillos, habaneros, red jalapenos, a CSA green pepper, garlic, a little cumin seed and a few peppercorns. relatively simple by my usual standards :D i will pull out the red jalapenos before blending and cut them up separately, so i'll have red chunks floating in a green sauce. early candidate for my christmas gift sauce.

salsa-verdeSept21.jpg
 

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Well, I had such a good time with this that I think I’m going to get some peppers growing when we have more yard next year. I just put together a batch with Anaheim peppers, jalapeños, a spare Serrano missed from my own plant, and some leftover chopped up leeks. I might end up trying for an actual liquid sauce this time around, but prefer the thicker, spreadable type sauces.

My random jarred stuff shelf keeps taking over other pantry shelves….
 

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Well, I had such a good time with this that I think I’m going to get some peppers growing when we have more yard next year. I just put together a batch with Anaheim peppers, jalapeños, a spare Serrano missed from my own plant, and some leftover chopped up leeks. I might end up trying for an actual liquid sauce this time around, but prefer the thicker, spreadable type sauces.

My random jarred stuff shelf keeps taking over other pantry shelves….
Same here. I've already been ordering seeds and planning my garden for next season. I'll probably get my seeds started in February so I have some big healthy plants to transplant after the risk of frost is gone. So far I've ordered or been gifted Habanero, Chocolate Ghost, 7 pot primo, 2 varieties of Cayenne, a couple other mystery super-hots and an Antep Aci Doma (sweet like a red bell pepper with the heat level of jalapeno. I'm excited for these!).

FYI, if you haven't already you should check out Chillichump on youtube. Sean is a South African guy that does nothing but grow and ferment peppers for his hot sauces. He does an amazing job showing you his process and is well worth a watch. I'm waiting for him to upload more videos because I binged his entire channel in a weekend lol
 

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Trying out my first ever hot pepper ferment today. I used the Habenero sauce recipe from Fermentation Kitchen, but subbed jalapeños instead and added 1 carrot. I chopped my produce too small and it was a pain to get everything under the weight, but I got it eventually. Fingers crossed! It's a 6% brine and the book recommends a 4 week ferment
20211010_111635.jpg
 
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