While this may sound a bit off-putting, I promise that it is much easier than it seems. This is a two-step process where first, the peppers need to be lacto-fermented (I’ll explain what that means below), then those peppers are used to make the shrub.
Now, what is lacto-fermentation? The “lacto” portion of the term refers to a specific species of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid. Lactobacillus received its name because it was first studied in milk ferments. These bacteria readily use lactose or other sugars and convert them quickly and easily to lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. If you’ve heard of kimchi, or sauerkraut, then you are familiar with lacto-fermented foods. They are great sources of probiotics and can be stored in a fridge for up to a month and sometimes even longer.
With that said, let’s dive into how to make the lacto-fermented peppers, which I used a mix of mild spice (Padron), and sweet (Anaheim) peppers for.
Using 1 quart.
Cut peppers into rings, enough to fill the quart-sized mason jar, and peel 4 cloves of garlic.
Separately, fill another mason jar (1 quart) with distilled / filtered water and 2 tbsp. of sea salt.
Seal the lid tightly and store someplace that does not get direct sunlight. Note: make sure all of the peppers are submerged under the water so they can ferment, otherwise the fermentation won’t take place.
Check the peppers for the first couple of days by opening the jar and releasing a bit of the carbonation from the CO2 build-up. If the lid pops from the pressure, fermentation has kicked-off. Feel free to taste, but the peppers should be ready after 4-7 days.
Lacto-Fermented Pepper Shrub
Yield 1/2 Cup
Using a clean utensil, remove 1/2 cup of lacto-fermented peppers from the mason jar and toss them in a small pot on the stove.
Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar to the pot, then bring the mix to a simmer.
Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool for 10-15mins.
After the shrub has cooled, strain out the peppers into a mason jar, seal, and store in fridge for up to 1-2 months.