Halloween is over and in a finger snap all the ghosts, goblins and fabric witches smacking into trees are replaced by Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and get-jiggy Santa Clauses. If you celebrate Christmas with gift giving or if you’re simply looking for some beautiful things to make for family, friends or yourself, herbs offer all kinds of unique and affordable choices. The next few posts will look at some things you can make with the simplest of ingredients. Today we’ll start with herbal vinegar!
With your pots of herbs lined up on the windowsill for winter you have all the ingredients you need for making your own herbal vinegar. There is nothing simpler and when you look at the price tags dangling from those bottles in the fancy food shops you won’t feel cheap giving them as gifts, even if they do cost you only pennies to create.
To make an herbal vinegar all you need is a jar, vinegar and your herb of choice. Follow the basic rule of one part herbs to two parts whine wine vinegar and allow a couple of weeks for the mixture to “steep” inside sterilized jars ensuring the herbs are completely immersed in the vinegar at all times and you can’t go too far wrong!
Here are a couple of recipes…
Tarragon Wine Vinegar
Flavored vinegar can easily be made from any herb or fruit but perhaps none are as popular with foodies as Tarragon. To make your own simply put 250 ml (one cup) of tarragon sprigs for every 500 ml (2 cups) of white wine vinegar in a sterilized jar. Use a wooden spoon to bruise the sprigs to release the oils. Let steep for two to three weeks until it reaches desired potency. Make sure the stems and leaves are covered in vinegar at all times to avoid mould and shake the contents thoroughly every couple of days. Remove the sprigs, strain, rebottle and enjoy! If you like you can add a single fresh sprig at this time for decorative effect. The vinegar will keep for at least six months in a cool, dark, pantry.
Chive Blossom Vinaigrette
500 ml (2 cups) white wine vinegar
250 ml (1 cup) chive blossoms
Pop the chive blossoms into a sterilized glass jar. Heat the vinegar to boiling point and pour over the blossoms. Cap with a non-metallic lid. Leave the infusion for one or two weeks, then strain and rebottle the liquid, this time into a more decorative glass container if you prefer. If you like, you can pop some fresh chive blossoms back in at this time for decoration. The vinaigrette is a lovely shade of pink.
Penny Pinching Hint: Look for fancy jars at flea markets or garage sales to use for making your herbal vinegar gifts!