Crafting Flavored Vinegars

Currant vinegar in process. Currant-basil on far right.

A fun and easy summer craft is creating flavored vinegars using herbs and fruits. Our family favorite is currant vinegar, which we make from the rather seedy berries that grow on our lone currant bush. I like to use this vinegar to cook with meats, in salad dressings, and to flavor coleslaw.

Most flavored vinegars begin with a base of white vinegar, though you might try apple cider vinegar with some fruits. And then you can add whatever herbs and fruits or citrus peels strike your fancy!  These recipes both come, more or less, from the Ball Blue Book. If you like to preserve foods, this is a wonderful resource! You can usually find copies for $5-6 at this time of year in supermarkets and big box stores.

Basic Berry (or Berry-Basil) Vinegar:
4 c. white vinegar
4 c. berries
Optional: zest from 1 lemon
Optional: 1 c. basil leaves, loosely packed

Combine berries and 1 c. vinegar in glass bowl.  Lightly crush berries. Place berries in clean glass container such as canning jar. Pour remaining vinegar on top. Place cap on top. You don't want the metal of the lid to contact the vinegar, so put some waxed paper between the jar and screw top. Place in dark location and let steep for about 1 month, stirring or shaking jar every couple of days to mix.

When flavor is at desired strength, strain through several layers of cheesecloth or through coffee filters. Store vinegar up to 6 months in tightly sealed jars or longer if you process in water bath. (Heat vinegar to simmer, ladle into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints for 10 minutes.)

Lemon balm vinegar
Lemon Vinegar 

We're trying lemon balm vinegar this year.

4 c. white wine vinegar, (or plain white)
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. mint (or lemon balm) leaves, loosely packed
Zest from 2 lemons

Simmer sugar in vinegar until sugar dissolves. Pour into glass canning jar. Crush mint and add to vinegar. With zester, remove peel from lemons and add to vinegar. Cover with waxed paper and jar lid. Let steep in cool, dark place for 1-4 weeks, depending on desired strength. Strain through cheesecloth. Store in glass jars or can as above.

I save old soy sauce and cooking wine bottles for our finished vinegars. When our chive plants flower, I'm going to try some chive vinegar as seen here. The possibilities seem limited only by one's imagination! If you've made some scruptious flavored vinegars, please share your recipes!


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