Garden Lifestyle

How to Make Hot Pepper Sauce

Here’s what to do when the season isn’t long enough for Tabasco peppers to turn ripe red

Green Tabasco peppers make for a simple Southern-style vinegar hot sauce. Photo: Jodi Torpey

When the last warm days of fall started giving way to cold weather, I knew it was time to pick all the remaining hot peppers, whether they were ripe and ready or not.

This gardening season wasn’t long enough or hot enough to help the Tabasco peppers ripen to the right shade of red. With the first hard freeze of the season heading my way, I knew I had to do something with that tall plant loaded with hot green peppers.

I’ve harvested and used green tomatoes, but this was different. Tomatoes continue to ripen on their own after they’re picked from the plant; peppers don’t.

Instead of covering the plant or trying to drag the container inside, I decided to turn the green peppers into vinegar pepper sauce. This is the same type of hot pepper sauce of sport peppers you may have seen on restaurant tables. From what I understand, vinegar pepper sauce is a Southern specialty that’s used to flavor up all kinds of cooking.

If you grow your own peppers, it’s easy to make your own hot sauce at home.

For vinegar pepper sauce:

  1. Remove the stems and caps from the hot peppers.
  2. Use a sharp knife to make small slits in one side of each pepper to help speed the steeping process.
  3. Place peppers into a bottle (recycled hot sauce bottle) or jar.
  4. Bring white or white wine vinegar to a near boil.
  5. Use a funnel to add the hot vinegar to the bottle, making sure all the peppers are covered.
  6. Optional: add your choice of seasonings, like salt, garlic, or peppercorns for added flavor.

I knew I was onto something as soon as that vinegar hit those peppers because my eyes started watering and I couldn’t stop sneezing. It’ll be fun to taste that hot sauce after it steeps for a few weeks in the fridge.

If you have a large supply of hot peppers and you’re feeling generous, fill another bottle and give as a gift to a fellow pepper aficionado.

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