Saturday, July 4, 2009

Making Herbal Vinegars

Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar

Herbal vinegars add unique flavors to a vast variety of foods, from salads to desserts, and can even be used in home remedies.

We have been experimenting with different herb and spice combinations for a few years with some very satisfying results. A great reference book is Herbal Vinegar: Flavored Vinegars, Mustards, Chutneys, Preserves, Conserves, Salsas, Cosmetic Uses, Household TipsThis is where we have gotten a lot of our ideas and also the book has delicious recipes using flavored vinegar, as well as cosmetic and medicinal uses.

Use about a cup of herbs to two cups of vinegar. A lot of times we don’t measure, just be sure to use plenty of herbs, you want to be sure to get good flavors. For spices, use two to four tablespoons per cup of vinegar. For a fruit vinegar, be sure the fruit is well covered- we have only done a few fruit vinegars, but this year plan on trying rhubarb with white wine vinegar.

Place herbs, spice or fruit in a sterilized jar, add the vinegar and let steep in a dark place about a week or two, then taste. If it’s not to your liking, let it sit another week and try again. Once you are satisfied, strain the herbs and put the vinegar into a clean, sterilized jar. Be sure to label (we often don’t and have to guess what kinds we have; this can be a fun game).

Below are some of our favorite combinations:

White Wine Vinegar:

Savory, bay leaves, cloves and thyme
Raspberries and lemon verbena
Basil and hot peppers, or plain basil
Mint
Peppercorns, tarragon and chive blossoms
Rosemary and peaches
Strawberries and mint
Lavender flowers

Apple Cider Vinegar:
Sage and hot peppers
Dried cucumber, peppercorns and garlic
Lemon balm and tarragon
Ginger root and lemon balm
Dill and chive blossoms

Red Wine Vinegar:
Hot peppers, rosemary and tarragon
Sage, rosemary and garlic
Oregano and peppercorns
Cinnamon stick, sage and mint
Ginger root and cilantro
Parsley, garlic, rosemary and thyme

Experiment with different combinations, or just use single herbs to find what you like. This is the first year we are incorporating some of our dried vegetables into out vinegars, and we have only used cucumbers so far (dried cucumber, peppercorns and garlic in homemade apple cider vinegar). The flavor is wonderful!