There are so many types of foods that are alive. By alive, I mean the good bacteria or yeast that made them is still living, and could continue to make more if encouraged. It's in many of the foods we love: bread, cheese, beer, salami, balsamic, pickles, miso, *deep breath* soy sauce, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and now fermented hot sauce! We think we are the first people to sell live-fermented pepper hot sauce, but if you know of some others, we'd love to hear about (and taste) it.[gallery ids="367,360,341" type="square"]
How can you tell if a food is live-fermented? You'll find it in a refrigerator instead of on the shelves. The cold slows the bacteria way down, and keeps them from reacting, but doesn't kill them. All bacteria are different, but I know from experimentation that yogurt cultures are most active at about 120 degrees F. It then takes some time between 6 and 12 hours to turn the milk to yogurt. Then, I put it in the fridge and it stays at the same consistency. Catching products at the perfect amount of fermentation is part of the art in making artisan products.
It isn't so bad if the products are left out, and therefore ferment more. They will get more bubbly, and more sour. Bacteria take in sugars, and put out tangy, sour flavors and carbon dioxide. That's why most kim-chi says "open over the sink." The product will continue to bubble, even if the bacteria are working very slowly.
Live-fermented foods are delicious, and add a pleasingly sour kick to any food. But the real buzz is about the health benefits. Why are they so good for you?