Making Herb Vinegar


1. Gently rinse herbs; shake out excess moisture and allow to dry naturally, or pat dry carefully. Remove any damaged or discolored leaves and woody stems. Twist or wring the herbs to release their volatile oils, and fill a clean glass gallon jar 2/3 full of the herbs. Add other flavorings as desired (peeled garlic, dried red chiles, citrus peel, flower petals, ginger, spices). Ginger and garlic should be peeled and gently mashed with the back of a wooden spoon; spices should be slightly crushed with a mortar and pestle.

2. Heat a good quality vinegar until warm to the touch, but do not allow it to boil. Pour the vinegar over the herbs, stirring well and gently bruising the herbs with the back of a wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap or a non-metal lid, and store in a cool place for a few weeks, stirring occasionally.

3. Strain into sterilized decorative bottles, using a non-metal funnel and best quality paper coffee filters or double layers of cheesecloth, taking care not to disturb sediment on the bottom of the large jar. Place a fresh, unbruised herb branch (and/or chiles, garlic, citrus peel, and such) into each bottle for garnish. Cork or cap bottles, and store in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. Use within 6-8 months.

4. As in fine wine, sediment naturally occurs in vinegar and will not impair flavor. Red wine vinegar and cider vinegar are apt to develop sediment, as are herb vinegars augmented with spices. Peeled garlic cloves will darken or discolor when left in the bottle. As you use the vinegar, remember to remove or submerge decorative herb sprigs that are no longer covered.

From The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson

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