Although few recipes from Thomas Jefferson’s household survive, in 1824 Mary Randolph, Jefferson’s daughter Martha’s sister-in-law published The Virginia Housewife, a cookbook that we believe contains many recipes Jefferson enjoyed. There was much contact between the Monticello family and Mrs. Randolph in the ten years before Jefferson’s death, so it is likely that Monticello dining inspired Mary. One intriguing recipe we are left with is Randolph’s pepper vinegar, a spicy component that can be used in contemporary refrigerator pickles. With summer party and picnic season is in full swing, pick your favorite local ingredients and try a jar or two of these quick Crispy Pickled Green Beans using Mary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar for that extra kick.
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar
6 to 8 ancho chile peppers or peppers of your choice
- Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to 2 cups.
- Remove and reserve the chile peppers. Set the pepper vinegar aside to cool.
Makes 1 jar
½ pound fresh French green beans
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon “Cabernet Sauvignon” peppercorns from the Herb and Spice Wine Pairings Set
¾ cup Mary Randolph’s pepper vinegar
½ cup water
2 garlic cloves, smashed once
2 peppers reserved from the vinegar
1 teaspoon local honey
- Place the green beans right side up in a clean Mason jar. Add the salt, peppercorns, and a couple sprigs of dill. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic cloves, peppers, and honey to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for two minutes.
- Remove the garlic cloves and peppers and add to the Mason jar. Carefully pour the brine into the Mason jar.
- Place lid on Mason jar and refrigerate for seven days until ready to eat.
Katy Woods is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.