Pepper Vinegar

Most other Americans seem to think that the quintessential Southern hot sauce is a Tabasco-type mash, but restaurants across the middle South usually offer pepper vinegar as well.

Many people find pepper vinegar essential for flavoring greens, and some—like me—like it on peas and beans. Any hot pepper can be used, but long cayennes and sports are most common. Make it in jars, and serve it in a shaker bottle.

Prick the peppers; you don’t have to stem them. Pack the containers until the lid just mushes the fruit. Use white vinegar, full strength, salted, something like a tablespoon of salt per quart of liquid. Heat the vinegar until just simmering.

Put a few drops of vegetable oil in with the peppers before adding the hot vinegar. This adds a little kick, and no, I don’t know the science behind it. Some people add sugar, but don’t.

Pepper vinegar ages well over several weeks and you can infuse the peppers with more vinegar–no heating required, but shake well–to stretch a jar.

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