Pepper vinegar-the aromatic, piquant liquid from chiles that have been pickled for at least 3 weeks-is a household staple in many parts of the South. It is used in the kitchen and on the table to liven up stews and vegetable dishes. Store-bought pepper vinegar is available in Southern supermarkets and West Indian markets
6 ounces fresh red or green hot chiles such as habanero or Scotch bonnet
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground cayenne
In a sterilized 1-pint Mason-type jar, pack the chiles. In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients until salt is dissolved and pour over chiles. Seal jar with lid. Let pepper vinegar stand at cool room temperature at least 3 weeks and up to 6 months.