Herb vine­gars and BUT­TERS

Pre­serve your home­grown herbs in oils, vine­gars and but­ters that can be used to en­hance mari­nades, sauces and dishes.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Culinary Herbs In The Kitchen -

Vine­gar is a great pre­server of foods and can be used to ex­tract flavours and pre­serve sum­mer herbs. Your herbal vine­gar can then be used to make salad dress­ings, sauces and mari­nades. Choose a vine­gar that won’t over­power your herbs, such as red or white wine vine­gar or cider vine­gar. Malt and white vine­gar can be too harsh in flavour.

In­di­vid­ual herbs or a mix can be used, and spices and fruits can be added if de­sired. Be­fore adding to the bot­tle, the herbs and spices should be lightly crushed to re­lease their flavour.

Pre­serve the flavour of French tar­ragon for win­ter use by mak­ing a tar­ragon vine­gar. There are two ways to make it: one is to steep the herb in vine­gar for 2-3 weeks; the other, for those who can’t wait, is to heat the vine­gar and leaves, then let it sit for a cou­ple of hours. The lat­ter can be used straight away, but the first method will give you bet­ter flavour.

To make tar­ragon vine­gar us­ing the first method, lightly crush a large bunch of tar­ragon leaves and place in a ster­ilised jar (don’t use a jar with a me­tal cap as it may re­act with the vine­gar). Pour in 500ml of white wine vine­gar. Seal, shake the jar and place in a cool, dark room for 2-3 weeks. Shake the jar from time to time. Strain the liq­uid into a ster­ilised bot­tle and seal.

Use this method for other herbs too. Store your herbal vine­gars in a cool, dark place and use within 6-8 months.

Care should be taken when mak­ing herb-flavoured oils, as they can con­tain harm­ful bac­te­ria. Un­like vine­gar, which in­hibits the growth of bac­te­ria, oils pro­vide the ideal en­vi­ron­ment for many mi­crobes to thrive. Store-bought herb oils con­tain chem­i­cal preser­va­tives, which in­hibit these mi­crobes.

When mak­ing your own herb-in­fused oils, you can re­duce any risk by us­ing dried herbs. Fresh herbs, es­pe­cially gar­lic, pep­per and lemon peel, con­tain mois­ture, which sup­port bac­te­rial growth. Use fresh herbs, though, when mak­ing an in­fused oil for im­me­di­ate use. These are ideal for salad dress­ings, driz­zling over pasta, for bast­ing food on the bar­be­cue, or as an ap­pe­tiser with bread and dukkah. Try mak­ing basil oil, rose­mary oil, chilli oil, or an aro­matic lemon­grass oil.

Keep fresh-herb oils re­frig­er­ated and use within a week. Oils with dried herbs should be used within three weeks.

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