When cooking, I rarely use vinegar in my recipes. The vinegar I use the most is white vinegar and that’s only when I need to clean the inside of my coffee pot.
But there are some little known benefits to vinegar and herbed vinegars do add a little extra something to salad dressings and some ethnic cuisines.
Did you know that vinegar keeps indefinitely and will actually preserve fresh herbs and spices?
Some dressings are made with Balsamic vinegar but did you know Balsamic vinegar is made from white Trebbiano grapes, aged in barrels over a period of years?
3 Ways to make Herbed Vinegar
Vinegar ranges in strength from mild (4%) to strong (6+%) in acidity. Malt vinegar (from barley) and cider vinegar (from apples) are less acidic and milder than wine vinegar.
For cooking and eating, red, white, cider, and rice vinegars are the best. White distilled vinegar (a grain-alcohol mixture) is the strongest (this is why it’s so good for cleaning).
Below are 3 ways you can make herbed vinegars followed by suggested herb combinations by vinegar type. If you crush or chop your herbs, this will help better distribute the flavors.
Boiled Vinegar (quick option)
If you are short on patience, boiled vinegar is your answer. Bring crushed or chopped herbs and vinegar to a boil and then simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Strain it and pour it into a clean bottle. This can be used immediately.
Heat and Aged Vinegar
For this herbal vinegar, you heat it without boiling it. Add it to a clean, sterilized glass jar or bottle of fresh herbs. Use 3 leaves or a sprig, one clove or a single chili for each cup of vinegar. Let it cool and then cover it, storing it in a dark place for a couple of weeks. Shake it occasionally during that couple of weeks to better blend flavors.
Sun-Made Herbed Vinegar
Yes, you can use mother nature for this one. Empty about 1/4 cup of vinegar from a newly purchased bottle and add herbs to it. Set the tightly closed bottle in the sun for 3 weeks and then strain it. You can use cheesecloth over the top of the bottle to pour out the flavored vinegar without getting the herbs in your dish.
Vinegar and Herb Pairings
Here are some herb combinations you may want to try. If this is you first attempt at an herb vinegar, you may want to start with a single herb.
Try basil, dill, garlic or tarragon by themselves. Remember chopped or crushed will net you better flavor.
Herbed vinegar can be used in any recipes that call for vinegar as an ingredient. It can also be used a substitution for recipes calling for lemon juice.
Cider Vinegar – Use chilies, garlic and oregano
Red Wine Vinegar – Works well with parsley, sage and shallots
Rice Vinegar – Use cilantro and/or garlic
White Vinegar – Try cardamom, honey and mint. You can also try a combination of garlic, orange peel, raisins and rosemary. Another combination that works well is burnet (has a tangy cucumber flavor), dill weed and shallot
Try adding a little to your barbecue sauce for a flavor surprise. It’s a great compliment to salads as well as sweet and sour dishes. As a meat marinade, it enhances tougher cuts of meat and also works in recipes with other acidic ingredients like tomatoes.