Infusing Vinegar with Chili Peppers
In general, always choose the freshest chili peppers for your infusions. Dried chili peppers also work great. Wash the peppers and slit them lengthwise so they do not float. You can also chop them into smaller pieces for a stronger infusion.
Habanero peppers are ideal for infusions as they pack a great deal of heat and flavor, but you can realistically use any type of chili pepper, like the fabulous jalapeno or the smoky chipotle.
Chili Pepper Vinegars are different from infusing alcoholic beverages with chili peppers only in that the vinegar is heated on the stove. To make a chili pepper infused vinegar, you can and should use more chili peppers than you'll use with an alcohol infusion. Figure 16 ounces of chili peppers for a quart sized storage container along with 16 ounces white vinegar. In a large pan, bring your vinegar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add your chopped chili peppers and remove from heat. Cover and cool to room temperature. Pour the contents into a quart sized sealable container, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space. Store the pickled peppers in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before using. The infused vinegar will get hotter with age, and you can also eat the pickled peppers with your meals. You can also use jars with sterilized lids to store the infused vinegar and pickled peppers outside of the refrigerator. Just be sure to follow all safety instructions.
Chili pepper vinegars can be used in any recipe that requires vinegar, and brings a great heat level and flavor. Note that this is a basic recipe for pickling peppers. You can easily add other flavoring ingredients such as pickling salt, sugar, onion, herbs and more.