Gather the bottles and jars folks! We're about to make herbal vinegar. Preserving your herbs in this way captures the tastes and aromas of the herb garden to enjoy for many months to come.
What's more, it will only take you half and hour or so to prepare the herbs and immerse them in the vinegar. Then it's just a matter of patiently waiting for a culinary miracle to take place.
Rosemary and tarragon were the first 2 herbs that I used for making herbal vinegars.
Other herbs that work well with vinegar are Dill, Thyme, Mint, Bay leaf, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Garlic, Sage, Basil, Fennel, Lemon Verbena, and Chervil.
You can also use fresh flowers. Pick Lavender flowers, Nasturtium flowers, Rose petals, Scented Pelargonium, Elder flower, Lemon Verbena.
Both these lists are not exhaustive. Look for alternative flowers and herbs to try.
Some herbs work better than others and release their oils readily. Tarragon is an example.
Even after just one day of steeping the tarragon, the vinegar already had a very strong aroma of tarragon to it. Because it has such a strong flavour use it sparingly in your recipes.
Garlic and dill are also strongly flavoured and scented herbs and will make good herbal vinegars.
Collect together a few wide mouthed glass jars with either cork or non-corrosive lids. If you have saved pickle jars they are ideal, having the right type of lid for vinegar products.
Pick enough of your choice herbs to almost fill each jar but not right to the top in order to be able to stir or shake the ingredients daily.
Wash them in cooled boiled water to remove dust and any small insects that may be harbouring in the leaves. Take a kitchen towel and thoroughly pat the herbs dry.
No need to chop them, just lightly crush them in you hands so the oils can easily leach into the vinegar.
Pack the prepared leaves or petals into the jars and pour over warmed vinegar. Do not make it hot or your herbs will start to cook.
Push the herbs so they are all submerged and place some glass marbles to weight them down if they tend to float above the surface.
Cap the jars and leave them in a warm dark cupboard or drawer, opening and stirring every day for 2 weeks.
If the vinegar has the strength of flavour and aroma that you like, strain it through a sieve or muslin cloth and bottle the vinegar. If it doesn't, strain it and add more fresh herbs repeating the process.
To make your bottle decorative, add one single sprig or a few petals of the herb and place it in the bottle. No need for labels if you can easily identify the flower or plant.
Herbal vinegars are used mainly to marinade or dash on salads along with oil.
Add seeds and spices to blend with the herbs to make variations that will tease the palate.
I added nasturtium seeds to my tarragon vinegar.
Below I have listed typical foods associated with each herb.
Experiment with your vinegars but keep in mind what goes well with the base ingredient.
Lemon Verbena – fish dishes
Rosemary – lamb and chicken
Dill – fish especially salmon
Tarragon – chicken, fish
Thyme – versatile with beef, cheese, fish, lentils, pate, vegetable stews, tomato, game, and pizza
Mint – lamb, duck
Bay leaf – pickles, in herbal combinations for soups and stews
Lemon Balm – chicken, fish, vegetables
Oregano – lamb
Garlic – chicken, cheese, tomato
Sage – pork
Basil – tomato, cheese, olives
Fennel – meat, fish
Chervil – fish, chicken
Lavender – lamb and chicken
Rose petals – goat cheese, fish, tomatoes
Elder flower – chicken, fish
Lemon Verbena – fish, shellfish
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