Make Your Own Herb Vinegar

If your garden's been prolific, you’ve got lots of herbs that you don’t want to go to waste. So, why not make some herb vinegar? This is a great way to preserve tender herbs, such as basil and lemon balm. It provides a tasty addition to your menus. And, if you make an extra batch or two, you can use it for homemade holiday gifts.

Although it may sound intimidating, making herb vinegar is easy. As is the case with lots of herb recipes, beyond the basics it’s really about personal taste. To start, you’ll need clean, thoroughly washed wide-mouth jars and lids. Your lids should not have metal that comes in contact with the vinegar since it’s reactive to the acid.

Picking Herbs for Herb Vinegar

Your herbs can be store-bought or harvested from your garden. Don’t worry if your herbs are flowering, they can go into the vinegar too. Make sure to harvest your herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried; that’s when their flavor is strongest. You can keep the leaves and stems intact. They can all be used. You also don’t have to use just one herb. Play with some flavor combinations to see what you like best.

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Choosing Vinegar

You’ll also need vinegar. This is another point where personal taste comes into play. Your vinegar should complement your herbs. White wine vinegar works well with lighter tasting herbs like lemon verbena. Red wine vinegar goes well with stronger tasting herbs like basil. There’s no right or wrong. You can play around with more specialized vinegar such as rice or apple cider. I’ve even known people to make fabulous herbal vinegar from standard distilled white vinegar.

How to Make Herb Vinegar

Once you’ve got everything gathered, stuff your herbs into your jar. The biggest mistake people make is not using enough herbs. So go ahead and fill that jar about three-quarters of the way up.

★ A good rule of thumb for fresh herbs is one cup of herbs to two cups of vinegar. ★

Lightly bruise the herbs with a wooden spoon to release their flavors. Then fill the jar with vinegar, leaving a little wiggle-room at the top and tighten your lid. You should steep the vinegar for at least a week on a sunlit windowsill shaking it once a day. After a week, check the taste, remembering the longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor. So, if you’d like a stronger taste, go ahead and steep it for another one to three weeks. 

Once you’ve reached your preferred flavor, strain the vinegar into a decorative jar and add a fresh sprig or two of the herbs you’ve used. Make sure to seal your final product tightly. Then decorate the bottle as you prefer.

When you’ve got your finished product, use it in your cooking or to spruce up salads. You can even add some oil to the vinegar for a vinegar and oil dressing.

Use your homemade vinegar in your own recipes or give it as a gift with pride!

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