Ever see those fancy bottles of herb vinegar at the market, flavored with everything from chiles to garlic to fresh herbs? Well, you can make them yourself at home!
The big decision you need to make is what ingredients you’ll use to flavor the vinegar. A good place to start is your herb and spice collection. Like the taste of coriander seeds or chile flakes? Then that’s what you’ll use to flavor your vinegar.
Another place to look for flavorful ingredients is at your local farmer’s market, where you’ll find just-picked, locally grown treats packed with nutrients. At this time of year, you might find strawberries (indeed, they’re already in season down South!), rhubarb, and ramps (also known as wild leeks).
Once you have your flavoring ingredients and your vinegar, the basic idea is to soak the clean herbs-or whatever you’re using-in the vinegar overnight. The next day, cook the vinegar over a very low flame in order to kill bacteria but preserve flavor and nutrients, then cool and store in a sterilized glass bottle in the refrigerator. You can put some herbs or spices in the bottle to make it look pretty.
Below is a basic recipe for herb vinegar using mint leaves, lemon peel, and garlic. Prepare extra ingredients if you would like to put some of the herbs or spices in the bottle at the end. Be sure to use good quality, fresh garlic, with brown bits cut off, or the vinegar can have a bitter taste. Follow these proportions and create your own signature vinegar!
Mint Vinegar with Lemon Peel and Garlic
Makes 3 cups
- 1 bunch (6 oz) fresh mint
- 1 organic lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 quart white wine or cider vinegar, or a mix of both
Wash and dry the mint. Peel the lemon delicately, making sure to get only the outer layer of yellow skin, and not the bitter white part.
In a large glass bowl, combine the mint, lemon peel, and garlic with the vinegar. Cover loosely and let steep overnight.
In the morning, pour the mixture into a deep, non-aluminum pan, and heat over a medium flame. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook 15 minutes.
Optional: Put some clean, dry mint, lemon peel, or garlic into a sterilized glass bottle. Strain and pour the hot liquid into the bottle, then seal and store in the refrigerator.
Louisa Shafia is a cook with a passion for healthy eating. She recently penned Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly advice on food. To watch her cooking videos, see her recipes, and find out about her cooking classes, go to lucidfood.com.