“This is one of the easiest and most satisfying ferments to make. Traditionally, long red chillies are used, but if you can get hold of them, fruity habaneros are fantastic. You can add whatever flavourings you like: lovage or celery leaves work well, as do sliced garlic cloves and the stronger tasting soft herbs, such as tarragon,” says food writer Olia Hercules.
“When the chillies are ready, the skins will be quite tough to eat, so I like to squeeze out the beautifully soft and fizzy flesh and blitz it into a paste in the blender. It is then excellent used as a condiment, or to spike up a rich winter borsch, split pea soup or some spelt dumplings; this summer, my husband mixed a spoonful with some yoghurt to dress a slaw.
“Do play around and get creative with it: think relishes and salsas, curries and stews, marinades for grilled meat, fish and vegetables – the possibilities really are endless.”
- Sterilised two-litre jar with a lid
- 20 g sea salt
- 20 chillies red or green
- 200 g celery and/or lovage leaves, washed
- 1 celery stick if needed
- Pour one litre of water into a saucepan, add the salt and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Switch off the heat, then leave the brine to cool down to room temperature.
- Put the chillies and leaves into a sterilised two-litre jar with a lid, then pour in the brine, making sure everything is completely covered.
- If the chillies bob up again, wedge a spare celery stick across the neck of the jar to keep them submerged.
- Cover with the lid and leave at room temperature for a few days, lifting the lid from time to time to release any fermentation gases. When you notice the brine becoming playfully fizzy, transfer the ferment to the fridge, where it will keep for many months, slowly getting more intensely sour and spicy.
Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules is published by Bloomsbury. Recipe photography by Joe Woodhouse.
Try Olia’s curd cake with caramelised apples.
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