Fermented Hot Sauce Brine Percentage: Read This Before Adding Salt

It takes literally no time to prepare a batch of fermented hot sauce and even less to finish them. The recipe is easy and quick, even for a beginner. But do you know what stops them? Yes, the brine percentage.

People often mess up the salt ratio when calculating or weighing. But those days are gone. So I am here to clear your doubts about the fermented hot sauce brine percentage once and for all. 

As per the rule, add 1 ¼ tablespoon salt to every cup or 8 oz of water. Generally, 1 tablespoon of regular sea salt weighs about 17 grams. Another way of determining brine percentage involves some calculations. For example, for a 2% brine fermentation, you need 20 grams of salt and 1000 mL of water.

However, what is the ideal salt ratio for a fermented hot sauce? Why is brine percentage so important in hot sauce fermentation? What will happen if you mess up the balance? 

Read the article to the end to get an insight into the science of adding salt to fermentation.

Fermented Hot Sauce Brine Percentage: How Much Salt To Put In A Fermentation?

Fermented Hot Sauce Brine Percentage

The ideal brine percentage for fermented hot sauce is 3% to 5% of the total ingredient weight. This percentage can fluctuate depending on how salty you want your sauce. 

Generally, the experienced chefs add 2 – 3% brine to the fermented hot sauce. I personally, keep the salt percentage between 3 – 4.

However, 5 – 6% brine will be a wiser option for the newbies. Do you think 5 – 6% is too much? I have seen people fermenting hot sauce with 10% salt content.

Remember, aiming for a higher brine percentage will make your sauce salty, but not too salty that you throw up. Not to mention that the high salt content will influence the fermentation speed, slowing it down. Too much salt can even stop the whole process.

However, adding salts up to 8 – 10% is suggested in some scenarios. The Lactobacillus, the probiotic bacteria for hot sauce, can not thrive at a low brine percentage.

How Do You Calculate Fermentation Brine?

How Do You Calculate Fermentation Brine

For brine fermentation, you calculate the salt ratio against the water. When it says 3% salt, you add 30 gram brine in 1000 mL water, no complaints. Similarly, for a 5% brine, you have to mix 50 grams of salt in 1L of water.

What if the water percentage increases? How do you calculate then? Here is how-

  1. Convert the water weight to milliliters.
  2. Divide it by 100. 
  3. Now multiply the result with your desired percentage.

Imagine you have a water bowl of 1.5L, and you want to add 3% brine. The calculations will go like this,

  1. Converting the water weight, 1.5L = 1.5 X 1000 mL = 1500 mL
  2. Dividing the weight by 100, 1500/100 = 15
  3. Now multiplying with the result, 15 X 3 = 45g.

Here it is. For a 3% brine fermentation in 1.5L water, you need to add 45g of salt. 

I am adding a brine chart for your assistance,

250ml500ml750ml1000ml1500ml2000ml3000ml4000ml
2%5g10g15g20g30g40g60g80g
3.5%9g18g26g35g52.5g70g105g140g
5%13g25g38g50g75g100g150g200g
10%25g50g75g100g150g200g300g400g

How Do You Calculate Brine Percentage?

How Do You Calculate Brine Percentage

If you are aiming for brine fermentation, calculate the salt percentage against the amount of water. But when you make a mass fermentation, you must calculate the brine percentage against the weight of veggies and water. 

For example, if you want to prepare 5% brine fermentation, you have to collect 1L of water first. Then add 50g of salt to the water and stir. Voila! Your solution is ready.

Calculate the brine percentage with the above trick for any odd water amount. 

Now, what if you want to prepare a vegetable fermentation of 3% brine? What then? Well, the following steps will help you in such a scenario,

  • Take a container and place it on the digital scale. Hit the tare button to remove the jar weight.
  • Now add your vegetables and a sufficient amount of water to the container.
  • Note down the weight in grams and multiply it by 0.03. That is the amount of salt you need.
  • Next, you must remove the veggies from the water and add salt to the water only.
  • Give the container a good mix, and you are done.

So, the calculation is simple. You have to divide the brine percentage by 100 first. Then multiply with the weight of your water and vegetable mixture.

Say I want to mass ferment vegetables weighing 700 grams with water. For a 5% brine solution, I must multiply the number by 0.05 (5/100 = 0.05). Hence, I require salt of 35 grams (700 X 0.05 = 35 grams).

How Do You Make A 3% Brine Solution? 

To make a 3% brine solution, you need 1000 mL of water and 30 grams of salt. You can do the calculation with any percentage in 3 steps,

  • Convert the water volume to mL, which also represents the weight of the water. 
  • Divide the salt percentage by 100, and you will get the brine strength. For example, 3% will become 0.03, and 2% will become 0.02.
  • Now multiply the water weight by the brine strength, and you will get the amount of salt you require.

It is crucial to get the brine percentage right. The accurate weighing ensures that every ingredient is totally submerged in the brine solution and will prevent molding in the long run.

Use proper scales and jars for taking weights. Otherwise, you will not get the desired taste or texture of the sauce. 

How Much Salt Do You Put In Fermented Chilli?

Honestly, the salt percentage in fermented chili keeps changing. Generally, adding 3% – 5% brine is ideal for making hot chili sauce. But you can increase the ratio if you want a slow fermentation or a craving for a salty sauce.

It is better not to add too much salt to the fermented chili. High brine percentage kills all bacteria, no matter if it is bad or good. As a result, your chilies will not ferment.

I have mentioned how you can calculate the brine percentage for your fermentation. It is okay if all these conversions, divisions, and multiplications seem messy to you. Here is an easy way for you.

Add 1 ¼  tablespoon of sea salt to every cup of water you take. So, 4 cups of water will need 5 tablespoons of salt (4 X 1 ¼ =5). Here, 1 cup of water equals 8 oz.

You can stir the mixture or slightly heat the container to dissolve the ground salt into the water.

How To Weigh Salt For Fermented Hot Sauce?

Of course, you should use a digital scale to weigh both water and salt for your hot sauce. First, you take a jar and place it on the scale. Next, hit the tare button and then pour water into the container.

After noting down the water weight:

  1. Calculate the salt percentage.
  2. Press the tare button again to eliminate the weight of both water and the jar.
  3. Add salt to the water slowly following the measurement.

You can move to the traditional tablespoon calculation if you do not have a scale. 1 tablespoon of salt equals 10 – 17 grams, depending on its quality. Here is a chart for reference,

Salt TypeGrams (g)Ounces (oz)
Celtic coarse sea salt11.940.42
Finely ground sea salt 11.450.52
Kosher salt 180.63
Maldon sea salt flake 10 0.35
Regular sea salt crystal150.59
Sea salt 16.810.59

Can You Use Less Or More Salt In Fermented Hot Sauce?

Can You Use Less Or More Salt In Fermented Hot Sauce

There are scenarios where you can add less salts without messing up your entire fermenting operation.

For example, a lower salt percentage will not harm your sauce if you live in a cold region. The situation is the same if your chilies are thicker than usual or you add brine from a previous fermentation.

Similarly, going for a higher salt percentage is okay in case you are in a hot region. Also, adding more brine means the fermentation process slows down, and you can preserve it for longer months. If that is your plan, then go with a higher salt percentage. 

Again, a high brine percentage is ideal for a saltier taste. More salts also work if you want to make a mash fermentation.

What Type Of Brine Suits Fermented Hot Sauce?

Any salt that has no additives or is not ionized will suit hot sauce fermentation.

It means you can use anything except table salt. The iodine content in the table salt will harm fermentation and sometimes can stop the process.

However, a research team has recently addressed it as a misbelief. According to the group, ionized salts do not significantly influence microbial growth. From my viewpoint, sea salt or Himalayan rock salt works better for hot sauce fermentation. 

Why Is Brine Percentage Important In Fermenting Hot Sauce?

Why Is Brine Percentage Important In Fermenting Hot Sauce

You got the right salt-to-water ratio now. But do you know why everyone is obsessed with making the brine percentage right? 

Well, at first, you may think it has to do with the saltiness of the product. But no.

Apparently, salt is added to the fermented hot sauce because of its ability to prevent harmful bacteria and promote the good ones. Only then will you be able to preserve your product for longer months.

You might have heard the name of Lactobacillus, which thrive in a mild brine condition. This probiotic boosts the fermentation and preservation process. At the same time, the Lactobacillus ensures that no harmful bacteria are taking shelter in the sauce.

In short, adding too much brine stops the fermentation process entirely.

On the other hand, putting too little salt messes up the good and bacterial ratio. Thus, getting the salt percentage right in a hot sauce fermentation is important.

Final Thoughts

The ideal fermented hot sauce brine percentage is 3 – 5%. A weaker brine concentration increases the risks of spoilage. It is because the bacterias are not suppressed and speed up the fermentation. Also, you get a softer texture on the sauce.

On the contrary, adding an optimized percentage of brine will offer better preservation and a slower fermentation.

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