Monday, October 14, 2013

“Herb Vinegars”

Hey Herbies!

We had a really fun “Herb Vinegars” program last Wednesday, October 9, 2013 with everyone taking home a bottle of herb vinegar.  We had an assortment of vinegars, herbs and jars to choose from, so no two vinegars were the same. 


Here is more information on herbal vinegars by Michael Bettler!  They make great presents! 

Christmas gifts from the herb garden

By Michael Bettler
Lucia's Garden

The fine thing about having an herb garden is that you can harvest all year and create garden gifts all year. There is always something to be done in the garden and always something to be done in the kitchen. Seasonal gifts in December are gifts that can be remembered long after the season is over.

One gift that you can make inexpensively is herbal vinegars and herbal oils to be given as presents "From My Garden to Your Kitchen."

Making fine herbal vinegars is not that much a problem to make. Buy natural flavored vinegars: white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, clear apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and red wine vinegar. These vinegars are softer and you taste more of the herb in these vinegars. (The 5% and 10% "White" vinegars can be too acidic or sharp as the final product.) Don't buy more than you want to give away. The 16. oz vinegar bottles are the perfect gift size.

Go to your grocery store and buy any of the above listed vinegars in quantities of five bottles, all the same or mixed. When you get home, put all the bottles in warm water to soak off the labels. Search in the fridge, under the cabinets or in the pantry for an open bottle of vinegar you are using.

There are three parts of any commercial screw-on vinegar bottle lid: the child-proofed plastic seal, the metal screw-on lid, the plastic seal in the top of the lid, and a plastic "shaker-pour" spout. Strip off the plastic seal and discard. Unscrew the metal lid and set aside the lid. Pry out the "shaker-pour" spout out and discard.

From only one bottle of new vinegar, pour about 1/8 to 1/4 of the new vinegar into the bottle of the old vinegar you are now using.

Go out to your garden and harvest what you want of one herb or of a combination of herbs. Gather a "hand full" of herbs for the first bottle of vinegar. Bring them back whole into the kitchen and spread them out on the kitchen table or the sink counter. Do not "wash" or rinse the herbs in the sink. (If you do, you will wash away some of the herb's flavor oils in its leaves and branches and you will then have to thoroughly air-dry them before putting them in the vinegar. Water in the vinegar will cloud it.)

Inspect the herbs for the vinegars and discard any yellowed or bug kissed leaves, as well as any that seem distressed or unhealthy. (Put these leaves in your kitchen compost or discard.) Pick all the leaves off their stems or twigs. Set these into two piles do not throw away the stems and twigs. (The stems and twigs make great package decoration, twig bundles for grilling smoke, or can be put into an old teapot to be put on the stove to boil, infusing the kitchen and the whole house with the scent of a herb potpourri.)

Now pack as many of one kind of herb leaf as you can into one bottle of new vinegar, using a Chinese chopstick as a plunger, in order to get as concentrated of a flavor as possible in one bottle. When you have nearly topped off the bottle, screw the lid on tight and set it aside, labeling the bottle "Basis Vinegar" or "Rosemary Vinegar" or "Thyme Vinegar." (Use one bottle of new vinegar for each individual  herb, or pack several herbs in one bottle and call it "Bar-b-q Vinegar," "3-Herb Blend," "7-Herb Blend," or "Herbs de Provence Blend.") Lay the bottle on its side in the pantry at room temperature and forget it for about 4 weeks while Mother Nature infuses the flavor oils into the vinegar.

After the four weeks, bring your vinegar bottles out of the pantry, open them to inspect, smell and taste each one. If they "pass," go out and buy four new bottles of "unflavored" vinegar at the grocery store, soak the labels, remove the seals, open the tops and remove the "shaker-pour" spouts. Now pour off 1/4 of each bottle into an already existing bottle of vinegar and then replace what you have discarded with the new herb-flavored vinegar. Put a single herb stem in the bottle to identify it later and screw on the lids back on.

Cut lengths of ribbon for each bottle and write a note saying "From My Garden To Your Kitchen" and you now have a wonderful kitchen gift to give to a friend, for salads, marinades or when ever you need a flavored vinegar.

Courtesy of Texas Gardener's Seeds for November 29


We discussed the problems with using fresh garlic, and it was suggested that we not use it. I waited until I got home to make my jar of herbal vinegar. I found an unopened jar of NAKANO - Roasted Garlic Seasoned Rice Vinegar. So I used it with oregano, rosemary and dark opal basil and have it stored in a cabinet. It's looking good!


The following websites have more information about “Herb Vinegars”:


 Photos courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs.

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