Infused vinegars add dazzle to food. They make great gifts, too.
1. Wash a glass canning jar and its lid in hot, soapy water. Rinse, and leave the jar in hot water until the vinegar and other ingredients are ready.
2. Make sure infusion ingredients are clean.
3. Heat vinegar in a saucepan to just below 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heat.
4. Remove jar from the water and drain it. Pack herbs and other infusion ingredients into the jar. Pour in hot vinegar, leaving one-quarter-inch headspace. Place a small piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the top, then screw on the lid. (The wax paper ensures the vinegar doesn’t touch the metal and corrode it.)
5. Store the jar at room temperature for up to a month. You may open the vinegar to test it periodically. When you like the flavor, strain out the infusion ingredients.
6. You can store the infused vinegar in the same canning jar, but, ideally, vinegar should be stored in a narrow-neck bottle with a tight seal to prevent oxidation.
7. If you plan to use the vinegar within a couple of months, you may add a fresh sprig of whatever herb you used to the bottle as decoration.
• 2 stems of fresh tarragon in balsamic or white wine vinegar
• Half a habanero pepper with a handful of fresh cilantro in white wine vinegar
• Zest of 1 lemon plus a handful of fresh basil in white wine vinegar
• 2 sprigs each of parsley, basil, thyme and oregano with 2 garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes in white wine vinegar
• 4 stemmed and sliced strawberries with 2 sprigs of thyme in champagne vinegar
• 1 sprig of rosemary in red wine vinegar
• Diced shallot in sherry vinegar
• A half-cup of fresh blackberries and a handful of fresh mint in cider vinegar
• Zest of 1 orange plus 3 cloves and 1 inch of a cinnamon stick in cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon each of celery seed and coriander seed in malt vinegar
Want to learn more about vinegar and its properties? Read How to Make Vinegar at Home.
Photo by Tim Nauman: Flavored vinegars left to right: Habanero-Cilantro, Strawberry-Thyme, Rosemary, Lemon-Basil.