Saturday, March 2, 2013


Well here it is, March 2, 2013, and it's COLD outside. I have already pruned back my roses and was so looking forward to playing in the dirt today! However, it is too windy and cold for me, so here I am at my desk looking outside and longing for some warm weather!
Looking at my backyard on Copano Bay, Aransas County, Texas! 

When I have extra time, I like to do research on the Internet and review some of the articles that I have written about herbs. So I ran across this article about herbal vinegars that I found informative and want to share it with all of you Herbies out there. Enjoy!!
Don't you just love those herbal vinegars that you find at specialty stores and grocery stores?  They are very pretty and tasty too, but what about the price of those herbal vinegars?  I believe that the cost is too high for most of us.   So why pay a high price for herbal vinegars when you can make your own which are less expensive and fresher? 
Some notes to follow when making herbal vinegars are as follows:
  • Use a good quality vinegar such as white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar.  Also you might want to try rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar (not apple cider flavored distilled vinegar).
  • Rinse and dry all fresh herbs thoroughly.  If you don’t dry the herbs completely, you will soon find a nasty fungus growing on your herbs.
  • Make sure everything you use has been sterilized and dried completely, i.e. bottles, screw-band lids, caps, corks, bowls, utensils, etc.  Use wood, glass, porcelain and plastic utensils and containers and do not use metallic utensils or containers.
  • Wash containers thoroughly, then sterilize by immersing the jars in a pan of hot water and simmering for 10 minutes. Once the jars are sterilized, remove from the simmering water and invert on a paper towel to dry. Fill while the jars are still warm.
  • Bruise the fresh herbs with a wooden spoon or utensil rather than cutting them. 
  • Fresh herbs can be blanched which helps extract their color and flavor and removes bitterness.
  • Crush or crack spices with a mortar and pestle. 
  • If using fruits, be sure to wash with hot soapy water to remove the wax coating.  Rinse well.  Use a citrus stripper or vegetable peeler to make citrus peel, avoiding the bitter white part of the skin. 
  • Vegetables, such as garlic, cloves and  jalapeño peppers, can also be used to add zest to vinegars. Thread these on thin bamboo skewers for easy insertion and removal.
  • Choose a proper sized bottle for holding the vinegar along with the herbs.  Make sure that the herbs are totally submerged in the liquid and that very little, if any, air remains in the bottle.  Store your vinegar in a cool, dark place.
  • Herbal vinegars generally take about two to three weeks to become flavorful and are ready to be strained and used.   Use a medium-sized tea strainer that is lined with cheesecloth or paper coffee filters to strain.  If you are going to give it as a gift, strain it into a pretty sterilized bottle and cork it.  You can tie some raffia around it with dried herbs attached, or you can get a pretty tea or kitchen towel and wrap the bottle in the towel and tie it up with raffia, string, ribbon, or whatever suits your fancy.
  • Date your bottle to ensure freshness.  You can use a fine point Sharpie and write the date on the bottom of the bottle.  You can even write the name of your vinegar on the bottle using a Sharpie.  Most herbal vinegars have a shelf life of two to four months.  And I recommend keeping herbal vinegars in the refrigerator to ensure freshness. 
Some suggestions for herbal vinegars are:
  • HERBS: basil, cilantro, rosemary, chives, ginger, chervil, parsley, tarragon, mints, oregano, thyme, marjoram, dill, fennel, pineapple sage, sweet bay, (can use dried or fresh), etc.
  • PEPPERS: jalapeño, serrano, habanero, pequin (can use dried peppers or fresh), etc.
  • SPICES: black pepper, white pepper, pink pepper, cinnamon, mustard seeds, allspice, nutmeg, dill seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, anise, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, celery seeds, etc.
  • FRUIT:
    • Berries: red raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, strawberry, juniper berry, etc.
    • Citrus: lemon, lime, orange, etc.
    • Pineapple, peaches, apples, mangoes, etc.
Some favorite herbal vinegar combinations are as follows:
  • Rosemary in everything
  • Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
  • Tarragon and Garlic
  • Dill, Garlic and Chili Peppers
  • Basil, Garlic and Chili Peppers
  • Opal Basil or Purple Basil with white wine vinegar which turns pink
  • Pineapple Sage blossoms with white wine vinegar turns it reddish
  • Pineapple Sage, Ginger, Cranberries, and Garlic
  • Pineapple Sage, Spearmint, and Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme and Sage
  • Pineapple and Cilantro
  • Chili pepper and Cilantro
  • Chili pepper and Chives
  • Blueberry and Basil
  • Orange Rosemary

  • 5-6 strawberries
  • One 1-inch slice ginger root peeled and chopped coarsely
  • Two ½-inch x 3-inch strips lemon peel zest
  • Two ½-inch x 3-inch strips lime peel zest
  • Two ½-inch x 3-inch strips tangerine peel zest
  • 1 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
Put first five cleaned and dried ingredients into a sterilized glass container and add vinegar.  Seal tightly and place container in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks.  Strain and pour into a sterilized glass container.  Store in the refrigerator and use within two months.


  • 2 tbs. fresh chervil
  • 2 tbs. fresh parsley
  • 2tbs. fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbs. fresh chives
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 chive with flower blossom attached
Bruise first four cleaned and dried ingredients with a wooden utensil.  Place bruised herbs into a sterilized glass container and add vinegar.  Seal tightly and place container in a cool, dark place for two weeks.  Strain and pour into a sterilized glass container with the chive with flower blossom.  Store in the refrigerator and use within four months.


  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Clean strawberries, remove stems and halve; set 1/4 cup aside. Place remaining strawberries in a large bowl. Pour vinegar over strawberries; cover and set aside for 1 hour. Transfer vinegar and strawberries to a large sauce pot. Add sugar, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain strawberry mixture, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Pour vinegar into a clean and sterilized quart jar. Add reserved strawberries. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator and use within two months.

Lots of people will not make either garlic oil or garlic vinegar for health safety reasons.  So the following information is for those of you that might consider making one or both of them.  If you do, follow the warnings!  You probably should make just enough for a meal or two and store in the refrigerator and use within a few days.  I use mine within a day or two as a precaution. 

NOTE about using garlic in vinegars and oils:
  • OIL: Garlic, vegetable or herb in oil mixtures may support the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. As a result the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that leftovers should be frozen, refrigerated no longer than a day or two, otherwise discard leftovers.  For safety reasons, they should be made fresh.
  • VINEGAR: Because vinegar is high in acid, it does not support the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria.  However, some vinegars, wine and rice, may support the growth of Escherichia coli bacteria because they contain a protein that provides an excellent medium for bacterial growth if not stored properly.  It is suggested that if making garlic vinegar, make only small batches and keep it refrigerated for no longer than three weeks. 

2 cloves garlic
1 cup white or red wine vinegar
*Optional rosemary or oregano
Mince garlic and place in a sterilized glass container.  Add vinegar.  Seal tightly with a nonmetallic seal.  Place in refrigerator for one week.  Strain into a sterilized glass container with a sprig of rosemary and/or oregano.  Make sure it is sealed tightly with a nonmetallic seal and placed in the refrigerator and use within three weeks.
All photos courtesy of:
The following websites have more information about herbal vinegars:

P.S. I didn't give any information about using herbal vinegars for your hair, but if you are interested, do a search for lots of good information! 

March 20, 2013

I was one the Internet today and found the following article:
Christmas gifts from the herb garden
By Michael Bettler, Lucia's Garden

Be sure to check it out for a great article for making herbal vinegars!  Thanks Texas Gardener and Michael.




Ruth H said...

Great post Linda! Maybe we should have a vinegars program.

Herbie said...

I am all for it. It was lots of fun the last time!