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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pepper Vinegar

Pepper Vinegar

Pepper vinegar is a colonial Virginia condiment. Mary Randolph (Thomas Jefferson's 1st cousin) published the recipe in her 1824 book "The Virginia Housewife." She published many recipes that were regularly used at Monticello in Thomas Jefferson's kitchen.  As the chile peppers in my garden are being harvested now, I decided to make a batch of this tasty treat. In colonial and early 19th century times here in Virginia, they would have used cayenne peppers, fish peppers, or bird peppers. For my version, I used jalapeno peppers. Here is Mary Randolph's recipe and I followed it to the letter.

"Get one dozen pods of pepper when ripe, take out the stems, and cut them in two; put them in a kettle with three pints of vinegar, boil it away to one quart, and strain it through a sieve. A little of this is excellent in gravy of every kind, and gives a flavor greatly superior to black pepper; it is also very fine when added to each of the various catsups for fish sauce."

It isn't as hot or as vinegary as you might expect. It's actually pretty mild and the flavor of the jalapenos really come through.

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