Illustrations by Adam Krueger
Homemade gifts don't get much cheaper, easier or more impressive than this bright-red hot sauce: It's colorful, it tastes great and you needn't tell anyone it only took you 20 minutes to make. This recipe's hotness all depends on the peppers you use, so don't go for the cayennes if you want a mild sauce.
Remove the stems and seeds from three pounds of ripe (red) cayenne, jalapeño or Fresno peppers. Wear plastic gloves—capsaicin doesn't wash off easily, and you really don't want pepper juice all over your hands when you take out your contacts. Mince the peppers.
Put the minced peppers into a nonreactive pot with 3 cups of cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Simmer them together for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool, then dump it into a food processor or blender and puree. If it's too thick, add a little water.
Pour the liquid through a funnel into sealable bottles.
Store in a dark cabinet for three months before opening, or instruct the recipients to do the same.