HOT PEPPER VINEGAR (about 2 cups)
1 pound fresh hot peppers (Thai or bird’s eye preferred, but Serrano or jalapeno will do in a pinch — try to find small ones in a mixture of colors. You can use dried peppers if you must, but the fresh ones will give the vinegar kick for longer.)
1-½ cups white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1. Wash and drain the peppers. Leave them whole and pack them tightly into a pint jar or bottle (use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon).
2. Heat the vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan until boiling. Stir in the salt and allow to cool slightly. Pour the hot vinegar over the peppers (use a funnel if necessary) and seal tightly.
3. Place in the refrigerator, or in a cool area away from sunlight. The vinegar will be infused in 24 hours, but will improve if allowed to sit for at least a week. The vinegar will keep for months in the refrigerator (Some people top up the vinegar, without boiling, as the vinegar in the bottle is used).
adapted from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, The Gift of Southern Cooking