August 01 2013
Do you have a surplus of fresh herbs growing in your garden? One great way to use these herbs is to make flavored vinegar and oil. It’s incredibly simple.
To make flavored vinegar, start with good quality vinegar such as white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Next, add some washed and dried herbs such as rosemary, tarragon or a combination of herbs such as rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage. How much should you put in? Well that depends on the size of your container. You want enough herbs to impart flavor but not too much that it overpowers the vinegar. Start with a small amount of herbs and then taste the vinegar after a couple of weeks to see if it needs more herbs.
Once the herbs are in the jar, add the vinegar. Top it with a cork and let the sealed jar sit in a dark place away from direct light for at least two weeks before tasting. Vinegar will last up to 6 months and they make wonderful (and inexpensive) gifts.
For infused oils, the process is pretty much the same. You want to start with good quality oil but nothing too strong in flavor. Try some sunflower or safflower oil to get that wonderful herb flavor. A good quality extra virgin olive oil also works well but will impart that olive oil taste.
Wash the herbs – rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, tarragon, basil, and chives work well, but you could use any herb – then dry them with paper towel and gently bruise them to get the flavor out by gently hitting them with a pan or spoon. Place the herbs in a dark glass jar or bottle and then add some oil that has been warmed slightly in a pan. Use a funnel to easily pour it in the jar. You want to use a dark glass container because oils really don’t like light. As with the vinegar, store the oil in a dark cool place. Infused oils will last for about 2 months and will get stronger as they sit.
Infused oil and vinegar are excellent in salad dressings or marinades.
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