Does Fermentation Make Peppers Hotter?

The process of fermentation of pepper makes the pepper not necessarily be hot, but rather, it gives the pepper more of an umami flavor that tastes more subtly as compared to the taste of the regular hot peppers or hot sauce. This taste can hit one in the face with heat.

Fermentation is a chemical process that is conducted by microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast. For the process of fermentation to work effectively and for it to produce a safely edible product, one would put an effort in keeping the harmful bacteria that will make an individual fall sick and bring about the spoiling out and ensure the retaining of the good bacteria that one will conduct the fermentation in.

This article contains more information on fermentation and its effect on pepper. You will also find how fermentation works on pepper and what effect it has on it. In addition, you will also find some answers to most of the frequently asked questions. Follow the guidelines and the tips given keenly for a better understanding.

Reasons why pepper is usually hot

Reasons why pepper is usually hot

The aspect that brings the heat in peppers and makes them spicy is capsaicin. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that was first found out to be after being isolated from chili peppers. Capsaicin is usually primarily found in the fruit part of the pepper, but the capsaicin compounds can also be found in the stem and the leaves part of the pepper plant.

The more the presence of the capsaicin in the pepper, the spicier the pepper gets. This is the aspect used to rank the spicy content of hot peppers and hot sauces on the scale known as the Scoville scale. This Scoville scale correlates with the concentration levels of capsaicin in the pepper or the hot sauce. The higher the pepper is on the Scoville scale, the hotter the pepper is said to be.

The coming into contact with capsaicin causes a significant amount of irritation and burning. This is mainly experienced when one is cutting peppers at home while preparing a meal. The fingers may start to burn a little, and if one touches their face or eyes, one could feel the irritation and the burn.

The capsaicin in the pepper can be used to treat pain. The capsaicin cream is most commonly used to treat minor aches and ease joint pains in arthritis. If the pepper stays longer in the plant vine, the hotter and spicier they get. This comes as a result because when pepper ages on the vine, the capsaicin levels increase due to its production.

When the capsaicin increases, not only will the spice levels of the pepper increase, but also the color will change too. The hot peppers are usually green at first, and the color gradually turns to yellow, then orange, and finally red as they mature. The peppers are usually picked from the vines, mainly at these stages depending on the capsaicin levels desired by the market or individual.

The effect of fermentation on pepper

does fermentation make peppers hotter

Fermentation is a process conducted by microorganisms like bacteria and yeast. To prevent the prevalence of harmful bacteria during fermentation, one can create an anaerobic environment without any oxygen.

This anaerobic environment is achieved by fermenting the pepper in an airtight container and a medium such as a salt brine solution. Good bacteria such as lactobacillus can thrive in an anaerobic environment. When the peppers are placed in an airtight container with a brine solution, the lactobacillus and other bacteria and yeast consume the carbohydrates in the peppers and change them to acid.

Fermented hot sauce is usually milder than the regular hot sauce, but it has much more layered and complex flavors, most especially if they are fermented in oak barrels. That reduction of heat due to fermentation most probably occurs because the bacteria and yeast are digesting the peppers and breaking them down. Most fermenters who want to keep hot and spicy will opt to use the more mature peppers with more capsaicin in them when making the fermented peppers or the hot sauce at home.

During the fermentation process, the fermenters also make sure to retain the inner white membrane that holds the seeds in peppers since this is where all of the capsaicin is usually found.

Time taken for peppers to be fermented

Time taken for peppers to be fermented

The number of sugars found in the pepper fruit determines the duration of the fermentation. The more the sugars available in the pepper, the longer the fermentation can take. Peppers can ferment for fourteen to sixty days, depending on the type of pepper and the environmental conditions facilitating the fermentation process. Conditions that affect the time of fermentation include the method used, the availability of sugar and oxygen.

Once the active fermentation is completed, the color and textures of the pepper continue to change in flavor and texture. This happens due to the chemical compounds in the pepper reacting with one another and the container’s sides. Other hot peppers are aged in wooden barrels for three to five years before making them into a sauce. This is done to change the pepper’s flavor even though the process was already done after two months.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Which is the reason why hot pepper gets hot?

Answer; the hot pepper produces capsaicin which is a chemical under which pepper is grown. This chemical determines how hot a type of pepper is.


In summary, when comparing the regular peppers and hot sauces to the fermented hot sauces and peppers, one will note that the heat levels will mellow as the process of fermentation advances. The fermented pepper’s quality in terms of taste is better since it has a better and more savory taste; though milder in heat, the flavors are usually more layered and complex.

In conclusion, the fermentation process can go wrong, and the peppers may go bad. Fermented peppers that have been destroyed may have an awful smell and mold growth on their surfaces. The peppers may have a mushy or soggy nature and may form large sediments at the bottom of the fermentation jar. The levels of pH may also begin to increase as the spoilage bacteria begin to dominate.