Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hot Pepper Vinegar

I was born and raised in Western North Carolina. I've eaten greens of every kind... mustard, turnip, spinach, kale... we generally only had collards on New Year's Day along with black-eyed peas for wealth during the coming year, hog jowl for health... Mama sometimes substituted ham for hog jowl and we had corn bread and usually sweet potatoes to round out our New Year's meal.

Then a few years ago I moved to the Midlands of South Carolina (new job and a wonderful new relationship)... where COLLARDS are practically a religion! Collards (around here, mostly pronounced without the "R" Collahds!) are eaten everywhere, and often... they are served alongside Shrimp 'n' Grits even in high end restaurants, as well as at Lizard's Thicket, the local country cooking restaurant. One of the gourmet food trucks in town even has a burger, served on hoecakes (cornbread) instead of a bun, topped with collards and black-eyed pea salsa... it's quite tasty. Collards were recently voted South Carolina's State Vegetable... they love their collards in South Carolina...

...and I've jumped on the bandwagon... I now have collards growing in my winter garden and cannot wait for them to grow... I have a plan to make Collard Kraut as soon as I can harvest my collard bounty... and I can't wait for fresh collards on New Year's Day... with the hot pepper vinegar that is served alongside them... In my NC mountain world, we always splashed a bit of vinegar on any greens (they were cooked with a little bacon grease)... but here in SC hot pepper vinegar sits proudly alongside ketchup, salt, and pepper in the condiment area of each and every restaurant table and in the refrigerator of a true South Carolina home.

I recently made my own version of hot pepper vinegar... here's what I did...

I sterilized my half pint canning jars by placing them in a flat pan of boiling water set on two stove eyes. I simmered my lids in hot water and kept everything hot until I was ready for them.

I washed a variety of hot peppers (green chiles, red chiles, hot banana peppers, jalapenos, etc.) and dropped them into the half pint jars... I tried to get pretty much the same amounts of each pepper I had on hand into each jar (any hot peppers will work, I had several varieties so went with that)... I filled the jars very loosely until they were about half filled with peppers.

Then I simply poured white vinegar into the jars, leaving about a 1/4 inch headspace (apple cider vinegar would be great too, I love the flavor it adds... in this instance, I wanted the clearness of white vinegar)

I tightened the lids on to fingertip tightness, then placed the jars in my canner, ensuring they were completely covered with water and brought it to a boil. I processed the jars in the boiling water bath for about 15 minutes, just to make sure everything was heated through.

After processing, I removed the jars using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.

I will let these jars sit for several weeks before opening to let the vinegar and peppers blend and marry well... Then... watch out collards!!!


  1. Why are you leaving about a 1/4 inch headspace. Is this a must?
    Thank you

    1. Yes, headspace is very important in canning. ~~Granny

  2. No salt or garlic? If you do custom salsa's, as I do put a little vinegar in them too.

  3. do u add water to the hot peppers

  4. Thanks for the initiation us in these things.
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