Dana doesn’t really eat hot peppers (or bell peppers, but that’s a different story) so I don’t grow too many of them and I use them either for myself or as gifts to family members. Here are some of the things I’ve done with the small bounty of Serrano and Cowhorn peppers I grew this year.
Hot Pepper Vinegar
Growing up we always had a bottle in the fridge of hot pepper vinegar. The recipe is simple: Put some hot peppers in a glass bottle. Fill with distilled white vinegar. Put a cork in the bottle and keep it in the fridge. It doesn’t have the same heat density as a more traditional hot sauce and it has no salt or other flavorings. It’s a simple recipe that adds a great tang and warm pepper flavor to many different dishes. I consider a spoonful of this pepper vinegar to be an indispensable finish to vegetable and chicken noodle, among other, soups. It also works great to add a little bit of extra oomph to certain asian, italian and mexican dishes.
This year I made two bottles of the stuff. The first was a glass pint jar for myself, which I’ll probably transfer to something easier to pour. The second bottle was a reused wine bottle that I suspect will be given away as a gift. These bottles were mostly filled with serranos (with the stems cut off) and cowhorns (split or chopped). I added a few of the little red ornamental peppers as well, although they mostly add color and didn’t do much to the taste or the spice level.
From left to right: Two bottles of hot pepper vinegar,
hot pepper flakes (top) and hot pepper relish (bottom)
Hot Pepper Relish
I made a very small batch of a hot pepper relish, and have been told by people that it’s great spread on sandwiches. The “recipe” I use is very ad hoc, but you can use a real recipe with measurements and things too if you prefer:
- A few hot peppers
- Some cloves of garlic
- Juice from a Lemon
- fresh ground black pepper
Toss all that stuff in the blender with a little olive oil. chop. Drop it into a pan and cook it up. Fill up a few small jars and heat-process them. You could put some tomatoes in there too, for bulk, but I didn’t for this batch.
Hot Pepper Flakes
I had a few extra cowhorns than I knew what to do with so I dried them out. They spent a couple days hanging outside, but I got impatient and finished them in the toaster oven. Once dried out completely I chopped them up into flakes. Because I used cowhorns and not something more traditional (and spicier) like cayennes these flakes were not as spicy as usual. However, they do make a perfect alternative for when a recipe calls for the flakes but Dana wouldn’t be happy with a normal spice level. I may also consider throwing some of these into a small bottle of pepper oil, but I need to find a good oil to use first.
Overall this year I was very happy with the production of my pepper plants and the varieties I grew. Next year I would like to expand a little bit because there are so many recipes I want to try, and so many people for whom a bottle of homemade hot sauce would be a perfect (and perfectly cheap!) holiday gift.