Monday 21 May 2012

Infused Vinegars

Chive flowers are in bloom right now and I've noticed a lot of posts on the various Facebook pages I follow about using them to infuse vinegars.  I love chive blossom vinegar too.  A simple-to-make pantry staple, it's one of my favourite salad dressing ingredients. 

I wrote a piece about infused vinegars last year, for A Word from Aunt B.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to share it again, with some amendments and some photos of the chive flower vinegar I made this weekend:

Infused vinegars form part of my pantry every year.  They add flavour to my salad dressings and marinades year ‘round, and they’re easy and affordable to make.  

I infuse my vinegars with fruits, herbs, garlic, onion, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, edible flowers - whatever suits my fancy and seems likely to work well with my recipes.  I try to keep it simple; one, two, or at most three flavours in a single blend. 

I use whatever vinegar I think will work best with the flavours I’m infusing.  I like red wine vinegar with cherries, and red or white wine vinegar with herbs.  I sometimes use rice vinegar or cider vinegar in my infusions, or even the plain white vinegar you buy in big jugs for pickling.  I rarely use malt vinegar.
(The vinegar shown in the photos is made with chive flowers, thyme flowers, and rice vinegar.  White or red wine vinegar would work very well with these ingredients too.)  

When making infused vinegars, I work in small quantities because I prefer to have a variety of different flavours on hand rather than a large batch of one single flavour.

As with any form of preserving, there are a few basic food safety rules to follow when making infused vinegars.  Please keep food safety in mind.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Use glass containers for your infused vinegars. 

If you re-use containers from the grocery store that can't be processed in your canner, your vinegars must be stored in the fridge. 

Always check the containers you're using for chips and cracks.  If they're damaged discard them. 

Begin by sterilizing your containers.  Wash them in warm, soapy water and rinse them well.  Place the containers in a large kettle and cover them with cold water.  The water must cover the containers completely, with at least 2 inches of water above the containers’ highest point.  Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for 15 minutes.  Keep them in the hot water, held at a simmer, until you are ready to fill them.

If you are using proper canning lids and intend to process your vinegar for storage in your pantry, prepare the lids according to the manufacturer’s directions, as provided on the package. 

If you’re re-using containers and will be keeping your vinegar in the fridge, sterilize the lids in boiling water, right along with the jars.

While the jars are being sterilized, wash the ingredients you will be using to flavour your vinegar. 

Large fruits or vegetables should be coarsely chopped or sliced so that they will fit into your containers and so that they more easily release their flavours into the vingear. 

There are no hard and fast rules about proportion when making infused vinegars.  If you’re using herbs, garlic, or onions, their strong flavours require that only a small amount be placed in each jar.  A single clove of garlic will flavour a pint of vinegar.  Likewise a couple of tablespoons of fresh herbs will do the job. 

Fruits and things like roasted peppers or tomatoes are more mild in flavour and will require more volume in proportion to the vinegar.  I like to fill the jar about a third full with these ingredients. 

When the containers are sterilized, place your prepared infusing ingredients in the jars or bottles and pour vinegar over them.  Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper towel and then put the lids in place.

If you are re-using containers from the grocery store, allow the jars to cool, transferring them to the fridge as soon as they've reached room temperature.

If you’re putting the vinegar away in canning jars for storage in your pantry, process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal them.

All food put by in jars benefits from being stored in a cool, dark place. 

Infused vinegars need to rest at least a couple of weeks in order to develop their flavours.  The longer they rest, the better their flavours will be. 

Once you’ve broken the seals on your jars, infused vinegars should be stored in the fridge, just as you would store pickles.

The flavours infused vinegars add to your dishes are definitely worth the effort you invest in making them.  Have some fun experimenting with your own flavours.  Enjoy the results.
This post is linked to Hearth & Soul Blog Hop hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Elsa Cooks, Penniless Parenting, Savoring Today, and Zesty South Indian Kitchen.
Hearth & Soul Hop


Judy@SavoringToday said...

I think of infused oils, but not infused vinegars, this is a great idea! I have chive blossoms in my garden right now too, now I have more I can do with them too. :) Thanks for sharing this on Hearth & Soul.

Aunt B said...

Thank you for hosting Judy. I always find interesting links on Hearth and Soul. :)