By Rita Heikenfeld and Erin Phillips – Remember when buying vinegar meant choosing between distilled, clear grain vinegar, cider, and a few choices of red and white wine vinegar? That was years ago, of course, and today there seem to be as many kinds of vinegar as wine.
Regardless of the available varieties, it’s still fun, and budget-friendly, to learn how to make flavored vinegar at home. You can make delicious and healthful homemade vinegar recipes with herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, even flowers. There are just a few things you need to know.
Bottles, Cleaning, & Storage
Vinegar can be infused and stored in any kind of jar with a good seal: mason jars, jars with a tight-fitting cork lid, sanitized recycled glass bottles. Washing in the dishwasher or hot soapy water, rinsing well, and drying is all you need to do. No need to sterilize. Vinegar is anti-bacterial.
Using glass is best. Hot sauce bottles work great for giving infused vinegar in as gifts. They are a nice size and make it easy to dispense the vinegar in controlled amounts. A reused vodka bottle holds large amounts of the vinegar, so use it only for the vinegar you use the most: garlic-chive infused white wine vinegar is a good choice.
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According to the Vinegar Institute, vinegar’s shelf life is “almost indefinite.” Infused vinegar is best used within a year’s time, though, as it can begin to lose flavor and color. Vinegar should be stored in a cool, dark place. You can even put them in the refrigerator, though refrigeration is not required.
Strain Before Final Bottling
Although not required, it’s best to strain the infused vinegar before bottling. You can add a fresh herb sprig before sealing. Place the herb stem side down.
There are three main methods for how to make flavored vinegar: on the stovetop, on the counter or pantry, or in the herb garden.
How to Make Flavored Vinegar on the Stovetop
Put your ingredients in a non-reactive pan and bring to a low simmer. Cover the pan to seal in the flavors and let it infuse until it smells right. This should take about twenty minutes or so. Strain, cool, and bottle.
How to Make Flavored Vinegar on the Counter or in the Pantry
Stir or shake the ingredients together in a mason jar or other sealable container and let sit on the countertop about two weeks, or until it smells right. Strain, cool, and bottle.
How to Make Flavored Vinegar in the Herb Garden
Bring your vinegar out to the garden, pick and clean your herbs and put them in the vinegar. Seal the container and leave it in the sun. It should take about three days to infuse. Again, smell it to decide when it’s done. Strain, cool, and bottle.
Fruit and vegetable vinegar takes longer to infuse, up to one week.
The Choices are endless!
So, now that you know the basics, it’s time to learn how to make a flavored vinegar that is not only less expensive than store-bought, but far healthier. These recipes will amaze you not only in their simplicity but also with the wow factor they give to any food you pair them with.
How to Make Flavored Vinegar from Herbs and Flowers
Many of these recipes begin with wine vinegar. You can purchase wine vinegar already made or learn how to make white wine vinegar. To make your own wine vinegar, mix vinegar with wine in a ratio of three to one. You can make small or large batches.
Whether you make white wine vinegar from clear vinegar or red wine vinegar from cider vinegar, make sure the vinegar contains five percent acid for a safe bottled product. You might even want to try your hand at making your own homemade apple cider vinegar.
So easy! For every cup of flowers or herbs, add two cups of wine vinegar. This method makes fairly strong vinegar, depending on the flavor profile of the herbs or flowers used. You can always adjust the flavor by adding more wine vinegar after the infusion is complete.
Remember to use only clean, pesticide-free herbs and flowers.
Garlic Chive Vinegar
- 8 cups garlic chive blossoms, thoroughly rinsed
- 12 cups white vinegar
- 4 cups dry white wine
- Mix the vinegar and wine to make your white wine vinegar.
- Divide your chive blossoms between six-quart jars (about 1.5 cups/jar).
- Pour three cups white wine vinegar into each jar.
- Screw on lids and let sit on the counter for several weeks. When the vinegar turns fuchsia and the smell is strong, it’s done.
- Strain the vinegar through a fine strainer or line a colander with a coffee filter.
- Taste it and if it’s too strong, add more plain white wine vinegar to it. Add it in small increments as you can always add more but can’t remove it once it’s been mixed in.
- Bottle your garlic-infused vinegar and store up to one year.
Follow the garlic chive recipe replacing the chive blossoms with sprigs of tarragon, maintaining the same ratios. You can cut the tarragon into smaller pieces to make it easier to measure out eight cups. Smell and taste it after a couple weeks to determine if it’s ready.
Slather this anise-flavored mayonnaise on salmon BLT’s, stir in a shake of cayenne and use as a dip for steamed artichokes. Dollop on seared steaks. Use in place of regular mayonnaise for chicken salad.
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar or more to taste
- 1 cup grapeseed or canola oil
- Salt to taste
- Add egg, mustard, and vinegar to the small bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape the sides.
- With the motor running, begin to very slowly add the oil in a very thin stream. If you add it too quickly, the mayonnaise won’t emulsify.
- When all the oil has been added, scrape the sides and process for 10 seconds or so.
- Taste for seasonings and add salt or a little vinegar if necessary.
- Stir in two teaspoons or so fresh minced tarragon (optional).
Tip: You can also make this in a blender, on low speed, following instructions above.
Even Easier: To every cup of purchased real mayonnaise, stir in a tablespoon of tarragon vinegar and some fresh minced tarragon if you have it.
There’s something ethereal about splashing sweet flower petal vinegar on fresh fruit. Get the drift? You’ll soon be mixing and matching herbs, spices, flowers, and vegetables to make your own signature vinegar creations.
Spiced and Herb Mediterranean Vinegar
- 2 cups red or white wine vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons dried basil or 2 tablespoons fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoons fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons fresh
- Pour vinegar into a jar.
- Add herbs and spices.
- When infusion is complete, strain, add a sprig of fresh herb if you like, and bottle.
Spice and Herb Mediterranean Vinaigrette
This is super simple. Just whisk together 1/3 cup vinegar to 3/4 cup olive oil.
This is delicious on a platter of sliced tomatoes topped with feta.
Fruit and Vegetable Vinegar
Use just about any berries or soft-fleshed fruit for fruit vinegar. Citrus fruit works well, too.
Sometimes I mix the fruit with a spice, like blueberries with a cinnamon stick or purple basil. When fresh cranberries are in season, I will put a couple sprigs of rosemary in the vinegar.
Fruit vinegar adds zing to vinaigrettes for salad greens or can be used as the basis for fruit shrubs.
Cucumbers, celery, and hot peppers are just a few of the vegetables for vegetable-infused vinegars.
Add a teaspoon of dill seeds to cucumber vinegar as it’s infusing. Hot peppers and garlic are good vinegar companions. Shallots bring vegetable vinegar to a whole new level. Try vegetable vinegar in grain and bean salads.
This is easy and foolproof! Use a ratio of a half cup prepared vegetables or fruit for every eight ounces of vinegar.
Have you learned how to make homemade flavored vinegar? If so, what’s your favorite?