By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
If your garden is like mine some of the produce is just growing and producing out of control it seems.
I know this winter I will relish in my abundance but right now I am swimming in peppers.
Hot, mild, green, banana, cayenne, and habanero all are producing wonderfully.
Some of my pepper plants are as tall as some of my tomatoes and the compost, mulch, horse feed, Epson salt, and hot weather has added up to this plentiful and never ending harvest.
But this year for my non-gardener friends and those whose garden is not producing due to heat and drought are to receive a gift that keeps on giving. I am taking baskets of peppers with recipes to these friends’ doorsteps, and this winter they will again be visited by one of my favorites, that is Hot Pepper Vinegar.
This vinegar goes perfect with homemade bean soup flavored with chopped ham and onion. The secret to making this Hot Pepper Vinegar is adding more and more peppers and letting it rest like a good wine. The longer it sets the more intense and delicious the flavors will be with being so hot that only the pepper connoisseur can stand.
This vinegar can be prepared using any combination of peppers and does not require heating the vinegar like some flavored vinegars require so give this simple vinegar a try.
Hot Pepper Vinegar
- Washed peppers such as hot banana, jalapeno, habanero, cayenne
- White vinegar
- Glass bottle with cork
1. Make sure bottle is washed and fill half way with white vinegar.
2. Push peppers that will fit through the neck of the bottle. The peppers that will not fit can be cut but make sure you wear rubber or latex gloves when handling peppers.
3. When sufficient number of peppers have been added top off with white vinegar, cork, and set aside.
Please note the number of peppers depend on the size of bottle and how strong a pepper taste is desired. This recipe is a great one not only for using up excess peppers but also for reusing those wine bottles that have been accumulating in the recycling bin. Just remember to wash thoroughly before starting the Hot Pepper Vinegar.
In the past I have given my Hot Pepper Vinegar in wine bottles with wax sealed corks. Covering the cork in sealing wax is not necessary but makes the gift look more impressive. This year I am still sealing my bottles but I am also giving homemade dried cowpeas and directions on how to cook them.
It seems the art of cooking bean soup has been lost to the current generation. This gift will tie in perfectly with the ritual of fixing black-eyed peas for New Years. This tradition is supposed to bring good luck for the coming year and with my gift I hope to pass on good fortune to the gardening year to come.