Gourmet Vinegar Recipes

There’s an old recipe for rabbit stew that begins, “First
kill the rabbit.” Well, like succulent rabbit stew, those
delightful gourmet vinegars that command such fancy prices
at the store have a very simple base and one could begin a
recipe for them with the line, “First pick the apples.”

You can start with apples — that is — and
easily make your own base vinegar, but it isn’t necessary.
Not when you can take any ordinary, pure apple cider
vinegar . . . add your own accents . . . and produce exotic
gourmet vinegars with a back-to-nature touch.

The process is really quite uncomplicated, although the
concoctions with mixed flavors do require more ingredients
than the simpler one-herb vinegars. I can assure you,
though, that the whole business is great fun and your
creative products will be much less expensive than the
gourmet varieties in the stores.

So let your imagination soar and see what you can create.
Here, to get you started, are four proven recipes of my
own:

Orange-Rosemary Vinegar Recipe

1 quart pure apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons (heaping) fresh rosemary leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary)
1 large, juicy, naturally well-colored orange 

Peel only the thinnest outside rind from the orange,
avoiding any of the white underneath. Chop fine. Strip four
tablespoons of needles (leaves) from the fresh rosemary and
bruise the leaves in a mortar and pestle, if you have one.
I use a heavy white crockery mortar and pestle that doesn’t
retain other tastes and aromas. You can also lay the leaves
on doubled wax paper and crush them with a small, old-time
crockery bowl or coffee cup.

Place the rosemary and peel in a quart jar. Add vinegar.
Let stand, tightly covered, for two weeks and shake
frequently to hasten flavor release. Strain through a sieve
to remove solid matter and then strain a second time
through a clean cloth laid in the sieve.

Pour into picturesque bottle, add several freshly cut curls
of orange peel and a sprig of rosemary . . . and set out as
the beginning of a collection of your own innovations.

The mixture is excellent with fresh fruit or as an
ingredient in a fruit salad dressing made of three parts
oil and one part vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste (a dash
of sugar is optional).

When resorting to dried rosemary for this recipe, first
bring the vinegar to a boil. Add rosemary. Cool. Add orange
peel and let stand. Whether you use your own fresh rosemary
or the dried bought-at-the-store variety, be sure it’s still
potently flavored and fragrant.

Spice Vinegar Recipe

1 quart pure apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon whole white peppers
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 small chunk dried ginger root 

Mix spices and vinegar, holding out ginger root. Simmer
gently for one hour. Cool slightly and pour into a quart
jar. Add ginger root. Cover tightly and let stand two
weeks, shaking frequently. Strain, using sieve and cloth
method. Bottle and use. Wonderfully good for marinating
cooked vegetables. Fine for basting ham and fowl. Tasty on
sliced fresh cucumbers.

Mint Vinegar Recipe

1 good handful fresh mint leaves (or 3 tablespoons dried
mint leaves)
1 quart pure apple cider vinegar (or 1 quart distilled
white vinegar)

Wash the fresh mint, shake it well and bruise it with a
pestle or wooden potato masher. Pack in a glass quart jar.
Pour in vinegar (when using dried mint, bring the vinegar
to a boil before adding the mint). Cover tightly and let
stand a good two weeks. Strain and bottle. You may want to
add a few drops of green vegetable coloring . . . with
cider vinegar, it produces a verdant “artist’s” green.

This is an excellent vinegar with lamb. It’s also good in
fruit salad dressings and — believe it or not —
delicious in iced drinks. You might want to freeze a tray,
with a mint sprig in each cube . . . a real conversation
piece. More surprising yet, this vinegar is great for
bathing the forehead to banish a headache and bring on
sleep.

Onion Family Vinegar Recipe

1 quart pure apple cider vinegar
4 small onions, or 6 shallots, or 3 cloves of garlic

I use such a title because this vinegar can be made from
any member of the onion family . . . the straight forward
onion, the potent garlic, the more subtle shallot and even
chives or garlic chives (either fresh or frozen . . .
chives freeze very well). 

Peel the onions, garlic or shallots. Then simply immerse
them in the vinegar until the taste suits you. Keep the
mixture tightly covered and when it’s ready . . . remove
onions, bottle and use.

To prepare chive vinegar, chop the chives fine, add them to
the fluid and let stand for a week or ten days. Strain and
use.

Onion family vinegar is remarkably good on tossed green
salads. Use it with anything that needs a garlic accent or
tenderize cheap cuts of beef by soaking them overnight in
the tangy brew.