Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer in a Jar

Making herb vinegar is a terrific way of dealing with an over-supply of fresh herbs. We use homemade vinaigrette on our daily salads and this treatment turns cheap cider vinegar into something much mellower and tastier. It also makes nice gifts.

I start with a basketful of herbs, clipped in the garden early in the morning before the sun has wilted them. Italian parsley, basil, garlic chives, thyme, and oregano are the main ingredients for this batch. I have dill and tarragon in the garden too and they make nice vinegars, but I think they do better as the single ingredient -- to my taste, anyway. I also have rosemary and sage but find them too overpowering, so I save them for drying.

Rinse the herbs under the faucet; shake off excess water, and cram into a glass jar. (I use gallon dill pickle jars I begged from a deli years ago.) Fill with cider vinegar and put a lid on tight to prevent evaporation. Let sit (in the sun is nice but not absolutely necessary) about a month. (Longer is fine.)

When you're ready to fill your bottles (I have a nice collection of Scotch bottles, courtesy of my husband who's a single malt fan and likes to do his part,) strain the vinegar and discard the used herbs. In each clean bottle put a few fresh sprigs of herbs (I use flowering sprigs because they're pretty) and a peeled garlic clove.

Pour in the strained vinegar; shove in a cork (the vinegar should touch the bottom of the cork), and you're done. Let age a month so the garlic can work its magic.

My friend Ruth, who got me started making herb vinegar, sealed her bottles by melting paraffin wax (in a double boiler for safety), tinting it by adding in a red crayon, then repeatedly dipping the neck of the bottle into the wax till the cork was completely covered over. Tres elegant!
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Susan M. Bell said...

You keep showing me things I HAVE to try. And I bet I can get big pickle jars from the local coffee/sandwich shop, too.

Pat in east TN said...

Here we go again ... gotta try it, gotta try it! :o)