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Northside restaurant The Parish is onto a new trend in the hot sauce world: fermentation. 

The holidays are heating up at The Parish, and resident flamethrower Travis Peters is bringing some fermentation to the fire.

You might conclude that bottled bacterium is the hot new condiment these days with consumer demand for Peters’ fermented hot sauces nearly outpacing supply. To get to the bottom of that story, on the heels of his announced plans to add four new versions to his existing portfolio over the next couple of weeks, I asked him to step out of his saucy science lab for a few minutes to catch me up on his current fermenting.

Peters’ first fermentation experiment was five years ago when he procured 30 pounds of hail-damaged peaches from a local farm that would have otherwise ended up in the compost heap. 

“I did some research on what to do with ugly produce and found out how well it would work in a ferment to release those healthy enzymes and bacteria,” said Peters, executive chef and owner of The Parish, 6453 N. Oracle Road. “I ended up doing a fermented peach and chili pepper hot sauce, got the bug, and it just took off from there.”

Peters calls his fermentation process a “simple science” of water, salt and whatever fruit, peppers and other ingredients that he happens to have on hand. Test batches are done in sealed, quart-size Mason jars, with higher-volume runs hanging out in six-gallon buckets with airlock lids. The wait time for the fermenting to finish can be anywhere from three weeks to more than a year depending on the desired flavors.      

The Parish currently stocks and sells three hot sauces representing different levels of fun and funk.

The most recent fermented version draws from fall season traditions, with pumpkin, pumpkin spice mix, dried coffee grounds, habanero peppers, coffee and vinegar. 

“This is a true pumpkin spice latte hot sauce,” Peters said.

Peters has also bottled up a fermented caramel green apple hot sauce with poblano, jalapeño and ghost peppers. 

“This one was done to be silly, and we didn’t realize that it would be as good as it turned out to be,” Peters said. 

While not fermented, his third version brings blueberries, blackberries and habanero peppers to the bottle. He plans to produce a fermented version of what he calls his “black and blue” hot sauce soon.

There are four additional hot sauces nearing the end of the fermentation process, and Peters expects to bottle them within the next week or two.

These include the Black Death, a spicy and savory sauce that blends poblano, ghost, pasilla negra and cascabel peppers with fish sauce, black garlic, vegetable ash and black limes; the Saffron Pineapple with additional hits of manzano and habanero peppers, Szechuan peppercorns and garlic; the Hot Day at the Swap Meet, with Fresno, ghost and New Mexico peppers, tamarind and spices to give it a “Mexican candy” flavor; and The Parish hot sauce, with manzano, Fresno and habanero peppers, carrots, garlic and onion.

“We’re probably going to finish The Parish hot sauce with some crab boil, just to get a little New Orleans flavor into it for Mardi Gras,” Peters said.

Which one of the seven hot sauces best represents the style, psychology and soul of Travis Peters? I asked him that very question.

“Probably a tie between the Black Death and The Parish,” he said. “They’re fun, a little silly and playful and they both go in wild directions.” 

Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at mrussell@russellpublic.com. Russell is also the publisher of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM. 

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