Pepper Vinegar

Most other Americans seem to think that the quintessential Southern hot sauce is a Tabasco-type mash, but restaurants across the 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. While any glass container can be used, one with a shaker spout is best. Prick the peppers with a knife tip; you don’t have to stem them. Pack the containers until filled such that the lid mushes the peppers down when closed. 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. Some people will add sugar, but I think this is superfluous. Pepper vinegar ages beautifully, and you can infuse the peppers with more vinegar (no heating required) once you’ve used the first to stretch the batch one more time.

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