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Two bottles of liquid with peppers and spices on a counter, with vinegar bottle and pepper corns bottle.

White vinegar, hot peppers and time are all you need to make pique. But the additions and variations are endless. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

Pique is a Puerto Rican hot sauce tradition that consists of hot peppers infused in vinegar or alcohol. You can keep it simple with straight-up peppers and vinegar, or get complicated with additional herbs and spices.

Time is the other variable. Keep tasting your Pique to find out if the flavors and heat level are where you want them to be. Then you can bottle the vinegar, and refill the original bottle for a second infusion, adding fresh peppers, or not. You can also try adding salt. 

Some recommend boiling the peppers briefly in water, to soften them, others suggest heating the vinegar first, before pouring it over the fresh peppers. Pique is a great place for experimentation.



12 small chili peppers, hot or mild--your choice

2 or more cloves garlic, slightly crushed (or sliced to fit into the bottle)

10 black peppercorns

2-3 sprigs of thyme or other herbs

White vinegar to fill the jar, about a cup or more


Remove the pepper stems. Slice slits into the sides of skinny peppers, and slice the larger peppers in half or into quarters--small enough to fit into the bottle or jar you are using.

Stuff the peppers into an 8-ounce bottle or jar.

Add whole, peeled garlic cloves, peppercorns, and any other herbs or spices you are using.

Fill the bottle the rest of the way up with vinegar, leaving a bit of headspace.

Cap and give it a few turns.

Let it sit out at room temperature between 2 days and 2 weeks to allow the heat and flavors to develop. You can refrigerate at this point, or just leave it out on your kitchen table. 

Refill as desired with more vinegar and peppers.

Optional additions and variations: 

Add Lime juice, cilantro stems, pineapple or pineapple skins, oregano

Use sherry or rum instead of vinegar, omit garlic and herbs, try clove instead. 


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