You can buy herbal vinegars with fresh herbs at a specialty store but they are expensive. Making herbal vinegar with fresh herbs at home is fun, easy, and a lot less costly. Herbal vinegar can be used in any dish that calls for vinegar.
Suspending fresh herbs in decorative bottles and covered with vinegar make delicious herbal vinegars. By making herbal vinegar you are preserving the taste of the fresh herbs. To make herbal vinegar with even more flavor use fresh herbs and spices. You can use dried herbs but it won’t be half as much fun and surely not as flavorful. Later you will see one of the favorite herbal vinegar recipes.
If you take the herbal vinegar and mix it with olive oil or safflower oil you will make an excellent salad dressing. Add a bit of the herbal vinegar to sauces or to mustards for a different taste. Put a couple of tablespoons into stock for poaching fish and it will make a delightful change.
To make herbal vinegar, wash and dry your fresh herbs thoroughly then pour warm vinegar, not hot, over them in the glass jar. Be sure that the fresh herbs are completely covered by the vinegar. Seal the jar and allow them to sit for a month or two to mingle the flavors. Do not allow it access to direct sun.
Always use sterilized jars. Pour boiling water directly into the jar. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. Allow the bottle to cool and thoroughly dry. Sterilize the corks by throwing them in boiling water. Make sure everything is dry before making your herbal vinegar.
After it has steeped remove the fresh herbs that you used and ad new ones for a fresher look. If you want to add garlic or chili peppers to the herbal vinegar, thread them on wooden skewers so that they will stay submerged.
There are two methods to warm the vinegar. The easiest is to allow it to sit in the sun for about 20 minutes. It can be warmed on the stove but be careful not to let it boil
When deciding on which fresh herbs to use consider the type of vinegars that would pair with it. Use white wine or champagne vinegar with delicate fresh herbs such as lemon basil or salad burnet. White wine vinegar goes with all fresh herbs. If you want to seek a stronger flavor use rice, red or cider vinegar with garlic, sage, and basil. Stay away from distilled vinegar as it is harsh and will not give you the best results.
There are no herbal vinegar recipes that have strict rules. Use your imagination when pairing fresh herbs to be used in your herbal vinegar. Here are a few that go well together.
Cinnamon Basil and Whole Cloves
Lemon basil by itself
Cinnamon sticks with Whole Cloves Nutmeg and Allspice
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, no kidding
Dill flowers with Peppercorns
Basil Garlic and Peppercorn
Hot Peppers alone or with Pearl Onions
When you start to use your herbal vinegar, as the level of the liquid goes down take out any of the herbs that are exposed to the air in the jar. If you leave them in the jar they may form a mold. Never use metal tops on the jars, they will rust from the vinegar.
Herbal vinegar can be used in many dishes. Herbal vinegar can be used in any dish that calls for vinegar. Marinate chicken or turkey in lemon basil vinegar for a tasty treat. Throw some into soups or sauces for a subtle change. Sprinkle on meats as they are cooking to add a different flavor.
You can also add fresh lemon or orange peel to the herbal vinegars for added zest. Experiment!
Following is one of the very favorite herbal vinegar recipes made with fresh herbs.
Lemon Herb Vinegar
4 cups of white wine vinegar
2 cups of lemon thyme sprigs
1 cup lemon balm leaves
1 cup lemon verbena sprigs
One continuance peel from a fresh lemon
Sterilize a six-cup bottle. Rinse and thoroughly dry the fresh herbs and lemon peel. Put the herbs and peel into the bottle and pour the warmed vinegar over the material. Allow the mixture to cool. Seal with a nonmetallic cap. In 2 weeks strain and divide into smaller bottles. You can add new fresh herbs to the bottles for added flavor and to make them look pretty.
This should give you some incentive to start an herb garden and to make your own herbal vinegar.
Good Luck and have fun!