The best tasting hot sauces present a balance of spicy heat and vinegary tartness, delivered in a way that enhances the flavors of the dish instead of burying them. Though all three listed above are very popular, they don’t compare to the hot pepper sauce you can make right in your own kitchen.
I have to admit that this whole pepper sauce thing was unknown to me before I moved to Texas. There it’s as common on the table as salt and pepper — used on damn near everything. I saw people adding pepper sauce to fried eggs, Bloody Mary’s, even barbecued ribs.
It’s a ridiculously simple thing to make – simply a blend of hot peppers and vinegar. That’s it! (Although I love a bit of garlic and black pepper in mine, which recipe follows)
Use whatever peppers you like – I prefer Serrano’s only because that is what the woman who taught me to make pepper sauce used, and I like the flavor. But Jalapenos, Habaneros, Pequins, Tabasco or Fresno peppers can also be used.
The type of vinegar you use is up to you. I prefer a mixture of white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, but I’ve been known to use white Balsamic vinegar at times. I enjoy the slightly sweet taste it brings to the pepper sauce.
Before you begin, make sure your bottle or jar is squeaky clean. Boil it in a hot water bath, or wash it in a hot temperature dishwasher before using.
Use enough peppers to fill the bottle/jar to the half way point, then throw in your garlic, peppercorns and dried pepper pods.
When your vinegar has heated to a simmer, pour the hot vinegar almost to the top of the jar/bottle (leave about an inch clearance). Let it cool slightly then add the top. Sit aside in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks (no refrigeration necessary) then enjoy!
The high heat of the boiling vinegar make pepper vinegar a shelf-stable product. It’ll keep for at least a few months at room temperature, and even longer when refrigerated.
Once you use half the pepper sauce, top it off with fresh vinegar and keep going. Replace the peppers once a year or whenever your pepper sauce starts losing its oomph.
- 1 glass bottle with cap or cork (pint size or larger)
- 1 cup or more red (Tabasco or Habanero) or green (Jalapeno or Serrano) hot peppers (quantity to fill your bottle)
- 2 Tablespoons dried chili pequin peppers (or more to taste)
- White wine, apple cider, or rice wine vinegar (or a mixture which is what I use) to fill your jar/bottle
- 1-2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns (your taste buds dictate how much)
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- In a stainless or ceramic pot bring enough vinegar to fill your bottle to a simmer over low heat. Watch pot carefully and make sure it doesn't boil.
- While vinegar is heating, rinse and set aside enough peppers to fill your sanitized jar or bottle. You may remove the stems if you prefer, but it's not necessary.
- Using a sharp knife, make a small slit in each of the peppers. This slit allows the vinegar to more easily penetrate the peppers and soak up it's spicy goodness.
- Stuff all of the peppers into the empty glass bottle. If using the garlic and peppercorns, smash the garlic cloves and add those along with the peppercorns.
- Fill the bottle with the heated vinegar and let cool slightly before adding top.
- Pepper sauce will be ready to use in 2-3 weeks.
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