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Oregon Extension Service -- Herbal Vinegars

Source: Oregon Extension Service, Carol Savonen

Herb vinegars are easy and fun to make and can be given as elegant holiday
gifts. They are welcome additions to salad dressings, sauces, meat dishes
and cooked vegetables.

All it takes to produce herb vinegar is some garden-fresh herbs, clean
glass jars and lids, vinegar and some containers to put the vinegar into
when it is done, explained Nellie Oehler, home economist with the Oregon
State University Extension Service.

"A great variety of herbs can be used to make flavored vinegars,
either by themselves or in combinations," said Oehler. "Mint,
basil, tarragon, dill, oregano and chives all are popular.

"Use about 3-4 sprigs of fresh herbs or three tablespoons dried
herbs for each pint of vinegar," she said. "The new leaves at
the tip of an herb plant are usually the most flavorful."

Oehler recommends the following procedure for making herb vinegars:

Sterilize glass containers such as quart or gallon jars by boiling
for 10 minutes. Sterilization inhibits microorganisms that cloud herb vinegars.
Insert the desired amount of herbs into a sterilized glass jar and
fill the jar with the vinegar of choice.

Distilled white and apple cider vinegar are most affordable, but apple
cider's amber color may not be as desirable for light colored herbs. White
wine vinegar is more expensive, but has a very smooth flavor.

Put a pint of vinegar in the jar per each three to four sprigs of fresh
herbs. The vinegar may be added either hot or cold. ;Some people prefer
to heat the vinegar to just below the boiling point and then pour the hot
vinegar over the herbs,; said Oehler. ;Others like the flavor
better when cold vinegar is added.

Tightly cap the jar. Plastic lids or corks make the best seals, as
metal jar tops will rust. Store your herb vinegar in a cool, dark place
for several weeks. After the desired flavor is reached, filter the vinegar
and put it into sterilized smaller containers for gifts or use in your
own kitchen.

Add a sprig of fresh herb for appearance. Or leave the vinegar unfiltered.
Citrus rind, garlic, peppers or peppercorns can also add unique flavors
to herbal vinegars.

Label your vinegar with the type of base vinegar used, the flavoring
ingredient and the date. Use the vinegar up within three to four months
for best quality.