- how to make - herb vine­gars

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Diy Food -

Afriend of mine asked me a cou­ple of months ago where I found time to ‘do all these things’. By ‘all these things’ she was re­fer­ring to a bot­tle of sage and rose­mary vine­gar that I had given her as a Christ­mas present.

I strug­gled for an an­swer be­cause for me this has be­come a rou­tine thing, a habit partly handed down from Mum who was a great be­liever in ‘mak­ing it your­self’. Ev­ery year around now, when plants start to go to seed, I start mak­ing vine­gars from the flow­er­ing stalks, es­pe­cially basil, co­rian­der and dill. My friend’s ques­tion got me think­ing about how per­haps other peo­ple would like to give a DIY gift, and so I felt com­pelled to sug­gest to any­one who feels that they just don’t have time to make home-made gifts that herb vine­gars are a good place to start.

Why? Ba­si­cally you pick a hand­ful or two of herbal or flo­ral ma­te­rial, pop it in a jar, cover it with vine­gar and walk away, leav­ing it in a dark, cool spot to steep hap­pily for 2-4 weeks. The acid­ity of the vine­gar breaks through the cell walls of the in­fused mat­ter, en­cour­ag­ing the re­lease of the won­der­ful aro­mas and flavours into the jar. Then it’s a sim­ple mat­ter of strain­ing off the liq­uid and bot­tling your now de­li­ciously fra­grant, tasty and at­trac­tively-coloured vine­gar, la­belling it, then giv­ing it away.

Another rea­son I like them? It’s got to do with money. You know where it says in my bio at the end of this ar­ti­cle, ‘she side­steps the su­per­mar­ket’ – this is a prime ex­am­ple, just in case you won­dered what that ac­tu­ally means in real life.

You have prob­a­bly seen herb vine­gars in up-mar­ket bou­tique shops. They look amaz­ing, pack­aged in glam­orous bot­tles with waxed seals, with bright red chill­ies and gar­lic cloves float­ing serenely in the depths. Amaz­ing un­til you see the price!

I’ll let you in on a lit­tle se­cret here: vine­gar is cheap. I buy mine in 5-10 litre con­tain­ers from whole­salers so the cost plum­mets to around $1- $2/litre. Bot­tles are easy to find and if you keep your re­cy­cling eyes open, you can build up a wee col­lec­tion of in­ter­est­ingly-shaped ones in which to dis­play your home-made vine­gars. Herbal vine­gars are also multi-tal­ented. You can in­fuse herbs in vine­gar for culi­nary, cos­metic and medic­i­nal use, and even for house­hold clean­ing. My favourite ways to use herb vine­gars are as key in­gre­di­ents in win­ter crock­pot stews, in salad dress­ings and as a rem­edy for sore throats. Herb vine­gars add the most de­light­ful flavours and pro­vide the all-im­por­tant ‘acid­ity reg­u­la­tor’ fac­tor that you will see on many food la­bels. Most of the time, ‘acid­ity reg­u­la­tor’ refers to vine­gar and if your stew or soup doesn’t taste quite right, try adding 1-2 tbsp of vine­gar. It’s one of those tastes that re­ally en­hances the flavour of food and one that cer­tain peo­ple crave, hence why we love salt and vine­gar chips.

METHOD For one litre of vine­gar, you will need two large hand­fuls of herbs and/or flow­ers, and a ster­ilised Agee or Ma­son jar with a plas­tic lid (or equiv­a­lent). Re­move any dirt or un­sightly de­bris and use only the best leaves and flow­ers. Pack the herbs and/or flow­ers into the jar, cover with vine­gar and pop the lid on. Put in a dark cool place for 2-4 weeks. In­vert the jar once or twice dur­ing that time to move the ma­te­rial around in the vine­gar. Strain off the liq­uid, la­bel it and it’s done – you’re all ready to pack­age it up as gifts (if you don’t use it all up your­self!). Some folks say use the vine­gar up within three months but I have found that in an air­tight bot­tle, the flavours are still very much alive and kick­ing af­ter a year, even two.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.