Making Herb Vinegars: Part 2

Yep, it’s been 2 weeks already and today was the day to bottle the herb vinegars.

I started by removing the herbs that had been soaking in the jars of vinegar. You don’t have to throw these away!  Unless you are making a bunch at one time, and different varieties, you can use them for cooking a meal that night but I wouldn’t keep them too long. The herbs will appear dry and brown in color, almost like grapevine leaves used in cooking. We used the rosemary for a chicken dish for dinner tonight, but disposed of the rest. You could probably refrigerate them for a week or two if you wanted to be frugal. But with so many herbs still growing in the garden, I decided not to hold on to all of them.  Next, filter your vinegar to remove any excess particles, stems, or leaves. I used a nice clean plastic pitcher and a reusable coffee filter.

Next, make a trip back out to the herb garden and snip a few stems and leaves of the herb you are using in your vinegar. Try to get new growth and use fresh stems or buds that have not been eaten on by bugs or that don’t appear too dry in color. Bring your stems and leaves in and give them a nice rinse with fresh water. Trim them to fit in your bottles if needed.  Then, push the herbs into your clean bottles. I rinsed the bottles out with water earlier this morning and sat them on the counter to dry. I also didn’t use too many herbs to fill the bottles, just enough for a nice decorative look.

Next, using a small funnel, pour your vinegar into the bottles.  A large canning jar filled two bottles just to the bottom of the neck. It was fun to see the different colors the herbs had created by infusing with the vinegar. The Pineapple Sage gave the vinegar a nice pinkish hue. The lemon balm and lemon basil made the vinegar appear crystal clear, even clearer than it was before.

Smells were even nicer! The lavender gave the apple cider vinegar a very effervescent aroma. The rosemary was a nice woodsy sweet smell. And the lemon was citrusy and tart.  The sage was soft and sweet.

Let’s not forget the tastes!  I sampled each one.  The Cinnamon Basil was my favorite – a nice rich cooking flavor. The pineapple sage was not as strong but a very simple flavoring taste. The Lemon Balm and Basil were extremely strong! The rosemary had its traditional flavor, that musky smell that fills the kitchen when you cook with it.  Even the lavender had a unique flare although it isn’t used much in cooking.  All of them were unique, but the basils and rosemary were my favorite.

This was a very simple process overall.  The biggest investment was the dozen glass bottles which we picked up at Worm’s Way. You also don’t have to have full access to a large herb garden like us. A small bunch grown on the kitchen counter or picked up at your local farmer’s market will do.  You definitely have to experiment with flavors that suit you best and your cooking preferences.  I immediately started another batch of rosemary after finishing up this project, and plan to make some more using the different basils we have.  We don’t use lavender much so I probably will not make another bottle of it.

After bottling our herb vinegars, I made labels for them using small postcards and ribbon. It really gave them a nice finished look for gifting. I wrote on the cards various uses for that particular vinegar because we plan to give some away to friends and family. While the herb vinegars do make a nice decoration, they will not stay that pretty for long. The herb leaves and stems in the vinegar will brown again and will eventually break apart leaving you with a bottle of cloudy and sour vinegar.  So, don’t be afraid to put it to use!  That’s why we listed several ways to use it on the card. Some of the uses many of them have in common are salad dressings, fruit salad enhancers, seasons for grilled meat and fish, and nice additions to soups.  We researched unique ways for using each vinegar via the internet.

So, there you have it – a nice easy way to utilize the herbs in your garden! They make great gifts!  And herb vinegars are unique ways of adding flavor to foods!

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