There is pretty much nothing easier to make in the kitchen than infused vinegars. All you do is literally pour vinegar over fresh or dried herb, fruit, garlic, and other seasonings.
Infused vinegars make lovely gifts which is why I am posting now (get ready for the holidays!).
Herbal vinegars are also a great way to eat your medicine. All herbs (even common kitchen herbs like basil and thyme) contain some medicinal qualities. Vinegars are a great way to draw these out and each herb has something special to offer. While medicine might not be your primary purpose it is a helpful bonus.
Making basic herbal vinegars
- Vinegar of your choice – apple cider, white balsamic, balsamic, white wine, red wine, or other good quality vinegar.
- You can use white vinegar, but its flavour doesn’t seem to improve no matter how much herbs you pack in.
- Herbs – Lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, oregano, catnip, garlic, onions, etc. You want to use herbs that are aromatic.
- Fruit – Strawberries, pomegranate, lemon, lime, orange, blueberries…the list goes on.
- Place your herbs and fruit in a large clean mason jar.
- Pour vinegar over the herbs leaving about 1 in of head space. Some may float so estimate an inch. Over time they will absorb the alcohol and sink.
- If using metal lids, line with plastic wrap. Vinegar will degrade the metal over time.
- Let the herbs infuse in the vinegar for about 4-6 weeks, giving the jar a shake every couple of days. The herbs will actually start to flavor the vinegar in 24 hours, but the flavour will be more concentrated in a few weeks.
- Try tasting to determine if it is ready or not (that’s all up to personal taste). You may want to add more vinegar as the herbs absorb the vinegar.
- It is best to strain the herbs out (so your bottle doesn’t clog) and then pour it into a salad dressing or other jar. However, for presentation sakes you might want to leave some in there or strain, then add a few springs of the herb, slices of lemons, etc.
You can use any herb combinations that you want into the infusion. Here are some combinations that I like:
Rosemary & Garlic
Use fresh sprigs and garlic cloves in red wine vinegar. Combine with a bit of olive oil and use it for bread dipping, or sprinkle on pizza or pasta. Both rosemary and garlic are great immune boosters and help with heart health.
Lemon Balm and Lemon
Grated lemon zest, chopped some lemon, and lemon balm in white wine vinegar is a lemony sensation. Use it on grains like couscous and quinoa, or make a salad dressing with it. The vitamin C in the lemon will help you absorb iron in your other food, and lemon balm is a wonderful plant for the nervous system.
Pomegranate and Fig infused Balsamic
The name says it all. Smooth, fruity, and decadent. This vinegar is a great balance between sweet and sour. Superb in salad or drizzled on fruit (like strawberries)! This vinegar is full of anti-oxidants.
Fennel & Citrus
Add crushed fennel seeds and the zest of one lemon, lime, and orange to apple cider vinegar. This fruity vinegar tastes great on a spinach salad with mandarin slices and toasted sesame seeds. Fennel is great for digestion and the vitamin C in the citrus will help you absorb the iron in the spinach.
What combinations will you try? Let us know if the comments below.