Small Measures: Infused Vinegars



I’ve long been the sort of person who looks at a commercially prepared item and wonders, “Could I make that?” Whether it’s a facial mask, flavored coffee or insect repellant, I’m constantly asking myself, “Woman, are you up to the challenge?” Sometimes, no, I’m not, but typically, why yes, I am! Now that fresh herbs are back in season and the first crop of arugula is popping up in the garden, I’ve had salad on my mind. To dress those salads, I’ve had vinegars on my mind. And because I’m always wondering if I can whip up something myself, I’ve had a mind to make infused vinegars, which I’ll share with you today. — Ashley English

The full post and how-to is after the jump…


The process of making infused vinegars at home couldn’t be easier. You simply fill a sterilized glass jar with infusing agents of your choice, top them off with warmed vinegar, seal and label. A few weeks later, the pungent, sour liquid is imbued with a heady blend of flavorful aromatics. Purchased pre-made, these beauties would set you back a good bit. Done up yourself, however, they top out around a dollar or two per bottle, which, from my vantage point, is a very, very good thing.


Pictured here are three vinegars I recently infused. Let these serve as a springboard for infused vinegars of your own. Trade out tarragon for rosemary, peaches for the berries or lemongrass for the garlic and chilies and create a custom kitchen of vinegars curated to your and your family’s preferences. That’s the beauty of making things yourself; you’re at the helm, guiding the flavors wherever you choose.

Tarragon & Orange Vinegar

The Goods

  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 2–3 sprigs fresh tarragon

Black & Blue Lavender Vinegar

The Goods

  • 6–8 blueberries
  • 4–6 blackberries
  • 2 teaspoons lavender buds

Hot & Spicy Vinegar

The Goods

  • 2–3 dried chilies
  • 2–3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

The Deal

1. Choose a glass vessel to your liking. I keep a variety of used bottles on hand for purposes just like this. Sterilize and dry them.

2. Place your infusing agent of choice in the jar. If necessary, use a skewer or chopstick to press the items down into the jar.

3. Warm 1–3 cups of white or red wine vinegar until hot but not boiling (the amount used will depend on the size of your bottle; to know how much liquid your bottle will hold, pour a measured amount of water into it first and determine your vinegar quantity accordingly).

4. Transfer to a spouted container and pour over the infusing agents in the jar until full.

5. Store in a cool location out of direct sunlight (such as a cabinet or pantry) for two weeks, shaking the bottle every few days.

6. Strain the solids and discard (or compost). If desired, place a small amount of the initial infusing agents back in the jar for presentation. Label and use within three months.

Infused vinegars are fantastic, affordable, creative and tasty selections for gift-giving. With Mother’s Day, graduation, Father’s Day and so many other holidays coming up over the next few months and weeks, you may want to consider whipping up one of these tart and tangy brews for your nearest and dearest. They’re also incredibly handy as last minute “I need a gift, now!” items, for occasions like house-warming parties or host/hostess gifts. A bit of twine, raffia or ribbon and a tag are all that’s needed to dress up your concoctions.

What about you? Have any favorite infusion combinations? I’d love to hear about them. Otherwise, I’m off to splash my arugula with something homemade, easy, budget-friendly and, most of all, delicious!

Photography and styling by Jen Altman

K.B.

I made chive blossom vinegar last year – SO good in salad dressings! I can’t wait to do more this year, and I’m currently eying my tarragon, waiting for the day it’s large enough to harvest from. I also want to try some fruit ones this year – raspberry in particular. I’ll have to try the chili vinegar too this year – thanks!

Erin

This looks fantastic and fun to do, but honestly, I’m trying to think of what you’d use infused vinegars for? Also, are there any that would use apple cider vinegar as a base for a sweeter option?

name (required) Sprout

Haha! Amazing how things come back around again. Twenty something years ago I got the infused herbal vinegar bug and made TONS of it! Ran out of friends to give it to before I ran out of vinegar. :-)

apayne

after buying some rosemary vinegar last year at a farmer’s market, i decided to whip up a batch of my own. so simple and so tasty!! plus, who doesn’t love homemade? loved this post and can’t wait to try the hot & spicy version.

Chris

Good ideas, and beautiful post! Extraordinary collaboration of talent.

truebluemeandyou.tumblr.com

One year I made lots for gifts using raspberries, blueberries and red vinegar. I used plain glass bottles with corks, then dipped the corks and a tiny bit of bottle in red wax (so easy) to dress it up further. I also printed out custom labels with my name as the “bottler” and the ingredients to put on the bottle. How long do you think these vinegars last? My mom has had the raspberry one on her counter for years because she thinks it looks so pretty.

Fay

Could you please explain how you sterilize and dry the bottles – particularly ones with a long neck?

Lisa B

Great idea! One question though, how do you strain the solids from a skinny necked bottle?

Jeanine

I’m so excited to try this! And they look so pretty in your jars of different shapes & sizes.

ashley english

Erin-The sky is truly the limit for infused vinegars. From leafy green salads, to warm potato salad, from marinated chicken/beef/pork/veggies to a splash on cooked greens, there are SO many ways to use these guys. And, absolutely, you can sub apple cider vinegar for white & red wine vinegar in any recipe.

True Blue Me & You-I suggest using them within 3-6 months.

Fay-I run them through a wash & dry cycle in my dishwasher. Alternately, you can boil them in a stock pot on the stove, and then place the bottles on a cookie sheet in an oven warmed to the lowest setting until they’re dry.

Lisa B-The infusing agents actually come right out. Simply turn the bottle upside down and give it a firm shake. If the bits don’t budge (and you’ve used the jar’s contents up), add some water to the jar, give it a swirl, and then do the firm shake again. Enough of the matter should come to the opening that you can then grab it out, or use a skewer or chopstick to inch it up.

Roseandpearl

These look awesome! Great gift ideas, along with a recipe using the vinegar. I am curious about taking this a step further- making the actual vinegar out of wine (or cider). I read that Braggs vinegar is unparturized & can be used as a starter. Has anyone tried this?

jaime

I make basil-infused rice vinegar, but a bit simpler than this: put (lots!) of fresh basil leaves in a jar, cover w/rice vinegar, put in fridge. Wait 2-5 days (taste it for the “right” amount of basil for you) and then strain it back into the original vinegar bottle. Keeps a nice long time in the fridge. I use it on grapefruit and avocado salad and anything else I can think of. It’s really lovely.

Jenene

i’ve been looking for a recipe for drinking vinegars (like they serve at pok pok restaurant in pdx/nyc) – ever made one of those? would you use the same vinegar as a base?

Sasha

Any thoughts/experience do this with balsamic vinegar and/or chocolate? I had a delicious chocolate balsamic that I would love to recreate.

Great tutorial, thank you!

Tal

1-3 cups of white or red wine vinegars cost a dollar or two? Where?

Francesca

Just yum and as winter approaches us here in Australia, just the thing you need to spice up winter meals

Katie

I love making vinegrettes. Though I do want to add apple cider vinegar as an option to the vinegar list. I made an apple lemon rosemary vinegrette last summer that was to die for with spinnach.

ashley english

Sasha-I’ve never made chocolate balsamic. It’s incredibly delicious, isn’t it? Maybe it’s my next vinegar to tackle!

Tal-My local grocery store chain, Ingles, had both white wine & red wine vinegars for sale for right around $2, as of this past Monday. I’m sure the price varies based on your location, though.

Stevie

My favorite pie crust recipe (tinyurl.com/6wad5kg) includes apple cider vinegar. I bet an infused vinegar would make it even more dimensional and would be equally good for sweet or savory crusts! I’m thinking lemon or rosemary!

Jessica

I have a question I have been unable to find an answer to online and this site is so beautiful, maybe you can help! I am in the final days of my 2 week infusion (I have mostly Balsamic & a couple White Wine Vinegars) I am very curious, if any turn out too strong is it safe to heat new vinegar and add to the infused?? (After strained) Help! Mahalo : )

Rebecca

I have never done this, however it looks absolutely beautiful … my question is when giving the bottled vinegarett as a Gift, would you leave the goods in and not strain ….

Laura

This is really late but for the person interested in making their own apple cider vinegar. It’s very simple. Just use freshly pressed unpasturized apple cider. You can either press the apples yourself or go to a orchard. Be sure to use only organic cider and it must be unpasturized. Place cider in a glass container, i use a 5 gallon carboy but you can use 1/2 gallon mason jars or a growler, cap using folded cheese cloth or a breathable cloth held with a rubber band. Place in your kitchen for several months until wild fermentation has happened (you will see a thick accumulation at the bottom, this is the mother) and cider starts turning into vinegar. Cap and move to a cool dark place and age. I find that the cider gets better with age and needs at least 1 year to be mellow enough to use.

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