Cookbook | Absolutely Wonderful Fiery Ferments [Before and After Chiles]

70 Stimulating Recipes for Hot Sauces, Spicy Chutneys, kimchis with Kick, and Other Blazing Fermented Condiments

I love the combination of flavors and techniques in Fiery Ferments, but I stuck to the basics in the past or bought the pasteurized version of a hot sauce before I tried to make my own without researching properly. Big mistake.

Making my own chili powder was a painful experience, blending dried chile peppers on a vitamix was a great idea, removing the lid after that not so much, even cleaning the vitamix got me coughing.

Thanks to Kirsten and Christopher Shockey I learned that I inhaled capsaicin (the compound that gives chiles their heat), so next time I have to check for a ventilated area, and be careful even during the cleanup.

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Also I’ve had problems during the fermentation process of sauerkraut (Recipe on Fermented Vegetables) as well. However, after reading Fiery Ferments and checking their website fermentworks.com I’ve learned from their experience how to work spicy+fermentation properly.

Fiery Ferments recipes bring life to spicy foods no longer alive because of pasteurization.

…Our favorite spicy foods and condiments were likely preserved through lacto-fermentation, with all the flavor, nutrients, enzymes, vitality, and other elements of goodness that accrue from working with probiotic bacteria. Then methods of quick acidification with vinegar and pasteurization came along, and our traditional spicy foods lost their probiotic love.

According to Rodney Dietert, PhD the microbiome “is a collection of thousands of different species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses,” that take residence in different parts of our bodies. Moreover, the microbiome is so relevant that “breast milk is probably the first probiotic food the baby will consume.”

The microbiome as part of our human ecosystem is fascinating, and it’s important to keep it healthy to protect our second genome, our microbial genes, to be healthy for us and the next generation.

Because of the old paradigm Rodney Dietert, PhD explains “…we only thought about shared microbes in a very negative context since they most often led to infections that swept the globe…But your resident microbes that don’t normally cause a disease and support your body’s maturation and function have circled the globe as well.”

We have microbes that we have to take care to be healthy, and they are even international travelers!

Besides health benefits, other reasons to ferment food are to preserve the aliments to have a longer shelf life, and to enhance the flavor.

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Fiery Ferments Content:

Part I. Getting Started

In this section, you’ll get information about the ingredients, techniques, tools and tips.

The tools aim for simplicity. You can buy different systems according to your budget, but in Fiery Ferments, the authors assume you are using a basic jar method. You’ll get information about different fermentation vessels + systems, a description, ease of use level, what is great about the systems, and each system challenge.

A section will cover everything about additional gadgets for slicing, shredding, chopping, and grating. Furthermore, an explanation regarding the use of salt, water, time, temperature, and burping the ferments.

The techniques present visual guides such as basic pepper mash, brine-based sauces and pickles, pastes and mustards, kimchis, relishes and salads. You can check several recipes here. Scroll down until you find the step-by-step visual guide to Brined-Based Sauces and Pickles.

The ingredients are divided into two sections:

  • Spicy ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, mustard, horseradish, peppercorns, and more.
  • Chiles such as aleppo, cayenne, chile pequin, fresno, jalapeño, habanero, and more.

Part II. Fiery Ferments

A chapter with pre-chile spicy recipes that turn up the heat without a chile. The fermentation process with pre-chile ingredients as ginger, horseradish root, mustard, peppercorns, etc.

All these recipes are fermented and include a heat index from mild heat (1) to fiery burn (5). Two techniques to create the pre-chile recipes:

  • Kimchis, relishes and salads,
  • Pastes and mustards.

The recipes with chiles include sauces, salsas, relishes, chutneys, flavor pastes, kimchis, fermented salads, and hot pickles. Besides the different chiles used in each recipe, you’ll find unusual combinations with ingredients such as tamarind, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, mango, plantain, pineapple, mint, etc.

Different techniques to create the chile recipes:

  • Brined-Based sauces and ferments,
  • Basic Pepper Mash,
  • Brined-Based sauces and pickles
  • Condiments, relishes, and fermented salads,
  • Pastes and mustards.

You will find popular recipes as Sriracha and Gochujang (Korean pepper paste), but also unexpected combinations like Habanero Basil Paste.

Part III. On the Plate

As a vegan, I didn’t enjoy Part III of Fiery Ferments. Recipes include meats, eggs, dairy with vegan meals or ways to veganize some of the recipes. If you aren’t vegan or have a mix of vegan and non-vegan family meals you’ll be happy.

The techniques in part II are mostly vegan or vegetarian except for kimchis, and the authors offer a vegan version. However, if you are easily offended for non-vegan meal pictures skip this book as you can find a roasted chicken in all its splendor in part III.

If I have to make an exception to buy a non-vegan cookbook, it would be Fiery Ferments, even though part III is the least useful section of this book to my lifestyle. Additionally, the authors never claimed the cookbook had 100% vegan content.

Part III presents different meals from blazing plates to spirited sips, and racy desserts.

  • Toasts and different top ingredient combinations,
  • Smoothies,
  • Buddha Bowls,
  • Empanadas,
  • Fire Cider,
  • Kvass,
  • Fried Bananas,
  • Persimmon Ginger Sorbet, to name a few.

Finally, Fermentation Doctor to deal with safety concerns.

With fermented products there is not safety concern. I can flat-out say that. The reason is the lactic acid bacteria that carry out the fermentation are the world’s best killers of other bacteria. Fred Breidt, USDA microbiologist

The section Fermentation Doctor shows several cases where the fermentation process can go wrong or concerns about what you think is going wrong with the fermentation process, but it’s doing fine.

In Fiery Ferments, Kirsten and Christopher Shockey mix their love for spicy and fermented food. Even though plenty of recipes include mostly chiles in their preparation, other spices as ginger, mustard, peppercorns, etc., make their appearance in their recipes. The authors describe their recipes as “fun, a bit crazy and full of flavor.”

Did you find this review helpful? Feel free to share on social media by using the super-easy share buttons at the bottom of the page!

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Available on: Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Powell’s Books | IndieBound

Authors Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey
Fiery Ferments: 70 Stimulating Recipes for Hot Sauces, Spicy Chutneys, kimchis with Kick, and Other Blazing Fermented Condiments
Published by Storey Publishing, LLC (May 30, 2017)
ISBN: 978-1612127286

ARC by NetGalley

There are affiliate links. I receive an affiliate commission if you decide to purchase from Amazon, Apple iBooks, Powell’s Books or IndieBound, at no additional cost to you. Thank you in advance.

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