Appalachian Food

Pickling Cayenne Pepper

cayenne peppers

“Mama always pickled cayenne peppers for “pepper sauce”–she used just straight vinegar. She used it on greens or cabbage and lots of other foods. Mama loved the garden and we tried to keep something growing for her as long as she was able. We took a folding chair into our garden so she could pick pepper. I had meant to let them go but she was never willing to let anything go to waste out of the garden. She’s been gone six years and I miss her so much.”

—Wanda Devers – 2017


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Don Davidson
    August 16, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Grandma always had a bottle of hot pepper vinegar on the table and made it the same way: hot peppers covered with boiling vinegar. We sprinkled it on beans, cooked cabbage or turnips and greens or fried fish. She would dry hot peppers too and always added a couple pods when cooking turnips or cabbage, as well as crumbling it into sausage when butchering hogs. During the summer time there would always be a dish of fresh green peppers on the table as well and usually accompanied by quartered raw onions.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 15, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Every time anyone mentions cayenne pepper I am reminded of my mother sitting with a bunch of dried red pepper in the tail of her apron and a pair of scissors in her hand. She’s snipping the pepper into tiny pieces to go in her homemade livermush or sausage. That was just part of our yearly ritual around hog killing time.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2020 at 11:28 am

    My family was never big on cayenne peppers, I remember seeing some but not used a lot.
    I didn’t have time to comment yesterday on the wonderful interview you did with your Mother. That will always be a treasure for your family! I am familiar with so many of the expressions she used, as she is just a couple years older than me. It brought back many memories as my Father left the farm and went North of Chicago to a beautiful town on Lake Michigan where there were factories everywhere. As soon as he got a job and a place to live he sent for his wife and son to join him and then I was born there. We would always go back South for Christmas. I smiled when I heard her say pasteboard box. Haven’t heard that in many years. Although sometimes I will say a word like we “traipsed ” all over town looking for the perfect gift. And then wonder where did that word come from:)

  • Reply
    August 15, 2020 at 10:41 am

    That sounds really good. For cayenne peppers I will use an expression I often hear, and that is “I like them, but they don’t like me.” Thank you, Wanda Devers, for the post. I too miss my Mom, and actually drove her through the yard so she could enjoy viewing the garden. She could not do much, but so enjoyed the harvest when I brought it in. She was a typical Appalachian woman, and anything concerning a garden brightened her day. I have wondered how many in nursing homes would benefit from gathering around a table to assist with preparing vegetables for canning.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 15, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I usually pick up a jar of chopped, cut-up red peppers at Ingles when I want some hotness. I like them Dry instead of Canned.

    About 10 or 11 years ago, I had the School ( Tri-County College ) to fix me one. About the only thing I knew was to turn it on, so I went to Hayesville to the Moss Library to learn how to use it. I liked it, but it cost a fortune, over 1400 and the girl the school sent over here to install it charged another 125. She was here for over 6 hours, because the power kept going Off.

    That thing went on the Blink and a few days ago, I went to Wal-Marts and got another one. I’m still getting use to it. I have more trouble than Job did, mostly with this New Mouse, but they’ve come Way Down since then. I got less than $320. dollars in the new one, and the retired Policeman and his boy didn’t charge me anything to set it up. I asked him how he knew so much about Computers, and he told me he’d been fouling with them since he was on the Force.

    I recon everybody has their Troubles from time to time. …Ken

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    August 15, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Pepper sauce is a staple in the Deep South. We always have a bottle in the fridge. I love it on greens and eggs.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 15, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I think Texas Pete hot sauce is pretty much just vinegar and peppers. I have never grown cayenne or made a hot sauce myself. I love that bright red color though.

    I grow jalapenos and I expect I could make a hot sauce with them. Years ago my jalapenos would turn red but now they never do. Then they reminded me of those old painted Christmas lights.

    You have just reminded me to that Grandma grew a small pepper in a pot and kept it in the house through the winter. The peppers were also small and grew upright, pointing toward the ceiling. And they were multi-colored. It really did look like a mini-Christmas tree. I don’t recall anybody ever eating any of them.

    Wanda, your missing your Mom reminds me of mine, also gone ahead. And reminds me of the song ‘Beyond the Gates’ which says in part

    “Beyond the gates of all sad partings
    Where grief and pain our hearts make sore,
    We’ll meet again our own dear loved ones
    And see their welcome smiles once more.”

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    August 15, 2020 at 9:00 am

    My Granny always pickled cayenne peppers too. Now I always have plants and do the same. Thanks for reminding me why I do that!

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    August 15, 2020 at 7:51 am

    If it’s HOT, I’d rather not…. it’s not what I call a good time to see people eat something that makes them cry and chase it with milk to stop the burn. But then, hey, to each his own… ya know????

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 15, 2020 at 6:39 am

    I never thought about just vinegar and red peppers, it sounds good. I always think of something else to add that’s just the way my brain works but simple is good.

  • Leave a Reply