Herbal vinegars are simple and quick to make. They are an elegant way to preserve a little of the summer's bounty and enjoy it in the dead of winter. And, packaged in pretty bottles, they make an elegant gift. They are used in salad dressings, marinades, gravies and sauces, so don't forget to include a recipe!
Making herb vinegar is very easy. Use good quality vinegar as a base. Cider vinegar is commonly used, but red leafed herbs in white vinegar yield lovely red vinegar. Experiment with wine as well. We do NOT recommend rice wine vinegar as it is not acidic enough. Pick the herbs needed for the vinegar, wash and dry them. Loosely fill a clean bottle or jar with the leaves, stems or flowers. Fill the bottle with warm, but not hot, vinegar and cover it.
Set the bottle with the vinegar and herbs aside. Shake it daily for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, taste it. If you'd like it stronger, strain the old herbs out of the vinegar and repeat the process with fresh herbs.
When the vinegar is ready, strain and bottle it. Fresh herbs added to the bottle are quite pretty. Due to its acidity, your vinegar will keep indefinitely and will not need refrigeration.
Herbal vinegar can be made with one herb or a combination of herbs. Almost all herbs can be used to make herbal vinegar. The most popular varieties are sweet basil, bay, chervil, dill, fennel, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, rosemary, savory, tarragon and thyme. Don't forget chive blossoms! Garlic and spices like pepper, anise and chili peppers are also frequently used.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- 1 part tarragon, 2 parts lemon balm.
- 1 part sweet basil, 2 parts salad burnet.
- 1 part each of tarragon, basil, chives, 2 parts each of lemon thyme and salad burnet and 1 clove garlic.
- 2 parts basil ‘Dark Opal’, 2 parts lemon verbena, 2 parts marjoram and a few chili peppers.
For more ideas on using herbs,
see our Herbal Teas, Pesto, Recipes and Preserving Herbs pages.