Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How Tuesday - Making Herbal Vinegar

This time of year, when the herbs grow large and beg to be harvested is my favorite time of year to make vinegar.  I make it in the spring too, but not as much as in the fall.  This year, I have made lemon verbena vinegar, Purple basil, lemon basil, and several new combinations, like chives and thyme together.

I thought I would share today the steps for making vinegar--

The most important thing you need when making herb flavored vinegar is the vinegar.  You want to obtain the best vinegar your money can buy.  As long as the acid content is 5% or more will not have to worry about bateria and your vinegar will have a great shelf life.  

The following instructions were included in my most recent article in the Essential Herbal Magazine.  In that particular September/October 2011 issue were articles about making oils and elixirs.  I recommend the magazine highly if you like exploring herbs and their uses.  Here is a link to check it out: The Essential Herbal Magazine.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Cleanliness is essential.  Wash all your utensils, bottle and containers with hot soapy water.
  • Use non-reactive containers for the steeping process, glass, plastic, porcelain and enamel coated steel with tight fitting non-reactive lids.
  • Freshly picked herbs yield the best results.  I pick mine in the morning before the sun leaches the essential oil, rinse them and let them air dry while I prepare the bottles and jars.
  • Steep your vinegar away from sunlight as the flavors are best maintained this way.
  • Always be sure your herbs are completely covered with vinegar to avoid mold growth.
  • Herb vinegars generally do not spoil, but they will lose their unique herbal character about 18 months after rebottling.
General Instructions:

Once herbs have dried from washing, place them in a glass jar and bruise them with the handle of a wooden spoon. 

Cover them with vinegar of your choice that you have warmed in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. 

Seal the jar with a non-reactive (plastic) lid and let sit for at least two weeks shaking daily.

Strain using cheese cloth or a coffee filter and rebottle. 

If you want herbs in the finished product add new unbruised herbs.  Then enjoy!

If you wish to experiment with your own vinegar, good herbs to start with are lemon herbs, basils (especially colored ones like the purple basil above), chives (and chive flowers) and thyme (both lemon and regular).  They are perfect for cooking and easy to incorporate into recipes.


Herb Shallot Marinade
I crafted this recipe for my first herb lecture back in 1995.  Great on pasta and vegetable salads.  Tenderizes less expensive cuts of meat.  Chicken breasts are delicious marinated 3 to 4 hours or overnight, then broiled or barbecued.

3/4 cup oil (olive)
3/4 cup of any Herbal Vinegar
3 Tbls. shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbls. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in small shallow bowl, beating until well blended.

Basil Summer Salad

This is a great way to enjoy your fresh basil from the garden.  You can use a basil vinegar as well as the one recommended.
Slice fresh tomatoes from the garden.  
Top each tomato slice with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.
Top that with a basil leaf.
Drizzle with chive blossom vinegar or thyme vinegar and good olive oil.

Oven Barbecued Chicken
3/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup lemon herb vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped dried onion
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup water
4 chicken breasts
Combine above ingredients (excluding chicken). Simmer 10 minutes. In a 9x13 inch oven safe dish, arrange chicken skin side up. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake at 350° for 60 minutes. Baste midway.

Skinless, boneless chicken breasts will work for this recipe. If you use skinless chicken, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Use less vinegar to suit your tastes.  You can substitue an herbed wine for hte vinegar in this recipes as well.

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