Our growing season is drawing to a close, so it’s a good time to preserve some of the summertime flavor by making herbal vinegar. It’s simple to make and can add a wonderful shot of freshness to wintertime salad dressings, marinades, gravies, and sauces.
Herbs that make good vinegar include basil, bay, dill, fennel, garlic, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Flowers can also be used to make vinegar; and varieties to try include carnation, clover, elder flowers, lavender, nasturtium, primrose, rose, rosemary flowers, thyme flowers, and sweet violets.
To make herbal vinegar, cut fresh, perfect looking herbs; and lightly bruise before loosely packing into clean bottles (I save interesting looking bottles with nice caps for this purpose). Pour warmed (not hot) cider or wine vinegar (30 – 40 seconds works in our microwave) over the herbs to fill and cap the bottle. Set the vinegar in a sunny window and shake daily for two weeks, then taste for flavor. If a stronger flavor is desired, strain the vinegar and repeat the above steps with fresh herbs.
Once the desired strength has been achieved, store as is or strain through cheesecloth and rebottle. Add a fresh sprig of herb for identification and visual appeal. Dressed up with a nice ribbon and tag, herbal vinegar makes a nice hostess gift. The ones shown above are in process and are (from right to left) mint, lavender, basil, thyme, dill, and sage.