With only five ingredients and requiring no long cooking time or chemical reaction for success, it's the perfect choice for making a quick, inexpensive and utterly unique and delicious gift at home. Making 10 half-pint jars took only 20 minutes of hands-on time. The longest part was waiting for the water bath to boil, a lull of which I took advantage by typing this post.
To make the sauce, you need:
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of salt
six cups cider vinegar
six cups of white sugar
1/2 cup hot red pepper flakes
Start by starting the water bath to boiling, simmering lids and rings and sterilizing your jars.
Combine the chopped garlic and salt in a glass or ceramic bowl and set aside. I chopped up a little more than a head of garlic to get a half a cup. I suppose you could use a garlic masher thingy or buy a jar of pre-chopped garlic as well.
In a stainless steel saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil. For the love of Ball, don't put your face over the pot while you do this - boiling vinegar is not something you want to inhale. After the vinegar comes to a nice boil add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for five minutes.
Remove the vinegar from heat and stir in both the garlic mixture and the pepper flakes, stir to combine.
Ladle the sauce into your hot, sterilized jars. Seal according to package instructions and process in a boiling hot water bath for 15 minutes.
When the processing is complete, remove the jars from the water bath (carefully!) and place them on a double thickness of dish cloth or tea towel to cool. Allow plenty of room for air to circulate and try not to disturb them for at least 12 hours. Try, too, to resist pressing the little button on the top of the lid to check for a seal. I know you'll want to, but try to avoid it.
And that's that. You now have 8 to 10 half-pint jars of Thai Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce with which to bless a friend (or yourself - we eat a lot of steamed dumplings around here and I may need to make a second batch). Next time you can add a bit of lemon grass or galangal or ginger, but for now you've made something perfectly excellent and of which you hold your head up high. As for cost, assuming you'll get the same ten jars I did and pay similar prices I'd say you're looking at a little less than a dollar a jar (for jars and ingredients but not including energy costs for processing and cooking).
In a few weeks we'll talk about embellishing the jars for a nice presentation. This sauce doesn't require much in that regard - it has a lovely amber color and a fun snowglobe-like effect from the pepper flakes and garlic. It could be given exactly as is or, if you're feeling expansive and generous, bundled with a recipe and perhaps a dumpling press, which can be had for a couple dollars apiece.
Whatever you decide to do in the way of gifting, be proud that you have made something delicious, useful, frugal and beautiful. Happy holidays, indeed!
Next up: Lemon-Sage Wine Mustard. Yum!