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Ferment Island is bringing us a sure fire hot selection and we love it!

We met Ferment Island owner Joel Xerri to discuss his products and all the passion he puts in the creation of some amazing hot sauces.


If, like me, you are into spicy food, you will understand the strange excitement that comes with trying a new hot sauce. It is something about the flavour, the intensity, but strangely it is mostly about how hot the sauce is and whether it will make you cry, literally.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

But hot sauces are not only about measuring your tolerance to hot sauce pain. With the right amount of heat and an excellent blend of ingredients, they can become an excellent condiment to some very enjoyable food items or dishes.


An enterprise making waves into the local food scene is Ferment Island. We at OMGFoodMalta spoke to Joel Xerri, a very enthusiastic person who is the brain behind the range of Ferment Island products. We discussed a shared love for food and hot sauces, how Ferment Island began, and Joel’s plans for its future.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

Raised in Canada, Joel told us how he has always been privileged with a good selection of food growing up. His first encounter with something spicy was a deep fried chicken wing from Hooters; a staple American restaurant in North America which can be found all over the city in Toronto. “A classic crispy wing tossed in their hot sauce was something that I fell in love with! The flavours were just packed with multiple different zesty notes and the heat was addicting!”


Having worked as a chef since the age of 20, Joel (now 28) allowed himself to be creative, preparing anything and whatever he wanted when it came to the kitchen. Due to the limited products that are available here, he found himself craving certain foods that he used to eat in Toronto but couldn’t find here!


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

“I was introduced to fermentation in 2016 by someone who enjoyed making his own kimchis and pickles! The taste was amazing and soon I found myself craving kimchi. Another item that you can not find here unfortunately!”


Joel had been buying hot sauces his whole life, but never thought about making his own until 2020, the year the pandemic hit. Like so many others in the catering industry, Joel found himself unemployed and worried about the future. He managed however, to make something out of the situation.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

“I had a lot of time on my hands so found myself wanting to learn something and since I knew about fermentation already, l decided to do just that! That day I went to amazon, ordered a bunch of books and began reading! The books arrived and I began my journey”.


The first couple ferments tasted great and Joel decided to give them out as gifts. “I got requests for more, and so started working on another batch”. Striving for more produce, Joel had a bag of chilies in the fridge and got on with work.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

“I fermented this lonely bag of chillies in the fridge for 2 weeks and came out better than the first time! So I bottled them and gave the whole lot out again! Once again, I got more requests and so said to myself ‘this will be my new venture!!’ After this, Joel met up with a friend to discuss the idea and the Ferment Island company was born!


Fast forward two years and now Ferment Island boasts over 20 items stocked on their website, is located in 7 different countries around the world and is still growing! The Mediterranean culture is reflected in the tart and flavourful varieties that come with the Ferment Island products. Each product is made of local vegetables and products sourced in Malta, and subsequently created on the sister island of Gozo!


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

All products are farm grown and chemical free. Products are fermented in a temperature controlled room in order to create a proper bacterial atmosphere which ensures maximum fermentation. All products are then pH tested, canned and pasteurized in a sterilized kitchen to ensure shelf sustainability.


We had the pleasure of sampling three Ferment Island sauces till now – the OG sauce, the Taco sauce and the Tropical Heat sauce. The OG sauce is loaded with a citrus and dill flavour, and has a slight touch of heat which makes it ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy some spiciness without an overwhelming heat. We loved it with some chicken wings!


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

Tropical heat is one of Ferment Island’s hottest sauces. It is made from red savina habaneros and was my (Jon) favourite. You first get this sweet taste with a pinch of cinnamon, followed by an intense but pleasurable heat which will delight hot sauce aficionados!


Tacos sauce is one of the new sauces in Ferment Island’s line up. We stuck to the name and made ourselves some tacos, but really, you can add it to anything. The sauce is made from local green serrano chilis, blended with limes, onions and cilantro. The taste is very balanced, and offers just the right kick to your food.


Apart from a range of hot sauces, Ferment Island sells a variety of other products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled veg, chutney, honey, beef jerky and seasonings! We got a taste of their Spicy Pickled Green Beans which have a strong tangy taste with not too much spice and enhanced with a few garlic cloves, spices and local dill.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

With so much potential, it is no wonder Joel has big plans for Ferment Island! “Our future plans are to get Ferment Island worldwide! The goal is to get our products in every shop in Malta. Our production is growing and so is our space. Our goal by 2023 is to have an area for people to come get their products and see how we work in our kitchen”.


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles

A Ferment Island fermentation station will be available for viewing by late 2022, early 2023, whilst new exciting products are on the horizon. “Here we are in 2022 and the road to this has been a long one but slowly growing and we are not done yet! Thanks to everybody who has supported us and keeps supporting us! It is the Ferment Island way…LOVE PASSION HEAT!!!”


Ferment Island _ Sauces _ Pickles



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