Even though I use herbs all the time in my cooking, I find that I usually can’t keep up with my herbs’ growth. Since I’m a huge believer in not wasting food, I try to make sure I use as much as I can. I preserve them, which usually works pretty well. Another way to use up a bounty of herbs is to make your own herbal vinegars.
Herbs for Herbal Vinegars
Many common garden herbs are perfect for making herbal vinegars. Some of the ones I’ve liked the best are:
- Chives (and chive blossoms)
- Garlic (cloves or scapes)
Vinegar for Making Herbal Vinegars
Some vinegars are better than others. White distilled vinegar, which I love for many things, is a bad choice for making herbal vinegars because it just tastes too, well, vinegar-y. Try one of these instead:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Champagne vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
How to Make Herbal Vinegar
You’ll need a clean, sterile jar to steep the vinegar in. Use at least 1/2 cup of fresh herbs for every cup of vinegar to ensure plenty of herbal flavor. Wash the herbs very well, and pat dry. Add herbs to the jar, and pour vinegar over the herbs. Cover the jar, and allow your herbal vinegar to steep for one week in a dark space, giving it a shake occasionally to stir up the herbs and vinegar. Check for taste after a week. If it isn’t as strong as you’d like, let it steep for another week.
Once you have the flavor you want, it’s time to decant into a pretty bottle or clean jar. Use a funnel, and either a double layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter to filter out any little bits of herbs or stems. Strain into your new bottle or jar, cover tightly, and use within one year. You can store it in the refrigerator or on the counter — either one is fine.
How to Use Herbal Vinegars
The best way to use herbal vinegars is when making your own salad dressings — the flavor is just amazing. But you can also use herbal vinegars to brighten up the flavor of sauces or stews.