Friday, January 4, 2013

Quest for Condiments: Pepper Vinegar

Lately, I've been looking for ways to season my vegetables without added fat.  No, I'm not fat phobic, but it ends up my body prefers a lower fat paleo regimen.  Growing up, my mom kept a small glass cruet with pepper vinegar.  I've seen pepper vinegar at the store, but it has additives and I know I can go through that tiny jar pretty quickly.  While at Target the other day, I saw this great milk bottle with a swing top lid and wider mouth and I knew it was time to make some pepper vinegar.  
Mom's cruet looked something like the jar on the left
and my new milk bottle.
Certainly, its not difficult, but I searched the internet a bit to see what I could find about tips for making my own and found found this recipe at Mostly Cajun.  If you can't trust a Cajun for a pepper vinegar recipe, who can you trust?

First, I gathered my ingredients and supplies.  

I washed my peppers.  I used a mix of Serrano peppers and jalapenos.  I wanted to use some red peppers as well for aesthetic purposes, but the grocery store did not have any when I went.  

As my vinegar wasn't going to be stored for a long period of time, I decided to do my version of a "quick" sterilization   I have no idea if this actually sterilizes the jar, but it makes me feel like its clean enough. Prepare your bottles according to your cleanliness comfort level.

I filled my electric kettle and set it to boil.  Once the water was boiling, I poured the water into my jar and over my jar.  It took me two full kettles to overfill the jar with boiling water.  I carefully emptied the jar in the sink using pot holders.  Be careful not to burn yourself.


I filled my jar with my clean peppers.  I didn't feel the need to completely fill this jar with peppers.  They are quite potent and felt confident that I'd get plenty of heat from what turned about to be about 1/2 a jar full.  Some recipes I looked at out there suggest slicing the peppers.  I poked holes in a few of my peppers with a knife.  I didn't fully slice any of them.  

I filled my 8 cup measuring cup with white vinegar, and microwaved it until it boiled.  I then set my pepper filled jar in the sink before pouring the hot vinegar into the jar.  

You'll need a little extra vinegar as the peppers will absorb some of it.  I had already needed to add about 2 inches of vinegar to the jar when I took this glamour shot and I had to add a little more after that.  

Unfortunately, after you have this pretty jar of peppers, you have to wait 2 weeks to use it to let the pepper flavor develop in the vinegar.  Here is my pepper vinegar after 2 weeks on my counter top.  

I had 1/2 a cauliflower that I needed to cook, so I decided to use it as my test vegetable.  I steamed it in the microwave without any seasonings.  

I decided to use a squeeze bottle so that I could better control the amount of vinegar in case it was very strong.  

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  You should be able to find all of the ingredients need at your "big box" grocery store very inexpensively.  You don't have to buy a fancy jar or dispenser.  You could just use a recycled jar.   
Preparation/Cooking Time: I apologize, I completely forgot to take notes on my preparation time.  It didn't take me more than 30 minutes to prepare the vinegar and then of course, there's the two week inactive wait time for the peppers to infuse the vinegar.  The most time consuming part was boiling the water to clean up the jar.  

Clean Up:  The clean up was super easy as everything went into the dish washer. 

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  This pepper was well worth the wait.  I'm glad I tested this with cauliflower.  It gave a nice neutral backdrop to taste the flavor of the vinegar which was much more subtle than one might expect.  I had to add more than I thought I would need to get the level of pepper I like.  Just to show, here is the amount of vinegar that was left in my bowl once I finished the cauliflower. 

With that said, I was glad that it was not so strong that it simply set my mouth on fire.  I could taste the pepper flavor with a little vinegar and it complemented the cauliflower nicely.  

Once I discovered that I could pour the vinegar a little more liberally, I went ahead and poured some into my pretty little jar like mom used to have.  

Does anyone else out there have a good pepper vinegar recipe?  What's your favorite low-fat or fat free paleo condiment?  Anyone else out there seem to be banished from the paleo panacea of eating seemingly unlimited amounts of healthy paleo fats?

Blog Note:  Weeknight Dinners E-Book Giveaway Winner:  Sarah L.!  Sarah has claimed her prize!   Thanks to all who participated and thanks to Amber Beam at Paleo Savvy for asking us to hold a giveaway.  Any feedback for future giveaways?  We are only 4 more facebook fans away from a Well Fed book giveaway!