Flavored vinegars are very easy to prepare and delicious with summer-time salads. They are favored by chefs for adding excitement to special dishes. Cooking at home is also enlivened by the blended flavor of vinegar and herbs, fruits, vegetables, and/or spices. And because they are naturally so high in acid, flavored vinegars allow more creativity than other types of home canning – you may choose fancy bottles and non-standard lids for an especially festive look.
- Choose festive glass containers that will showcase your product. Use only glass containers, not plastic or metal. Carefully wash in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Prior to filling, sanitize by boiling in water for 10 minutes.
- Choose a tight-fitting lid or cap. Use non-corrodible metal, plastic, or even cork. Wash lid or cap and sanitize prior to using. If using corks, use new cords and dip in and out of boiling water 3-4 times prior to sealing bottles.
- Allow 3-4 fresh herb sprigs per 2 cups of vinegar. Use only the best leaves or stems for best presentation and flavor. Rinse well, but gently, in water and blot dry. For best keeping quality, dip in a dilute bleach solution after rinsing with water: 1 teaspoon of bleach in 6 cups of water (do not use scented bleach). Rinse again in cool water and blot dry. Or use dried herb: 3 Tablespoons per 2 cups of vinegar.
- Favorite fruits for flavoring vinegars include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, and the peel of lemons and oranges. Consider combining fruits with herbs such as mint or spices such as cinnamon. Rinse fruit well and blot dry. Allow 1-2 cups of fruit per 2 cups of vinegar.
- Other popular flavorings include peeled garlic cloves, jalapeno, or other hot peppers, green onions, peppercorns, or mustard seeds.
Preparing Flavored Vinegar
Place herbs, fruits, vegetables, and/or spices in sterilized jars. Heat vinegar to just below the boiling point (190°-195°F), and pour over the flavoring ingredients, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe jar or bottle rim and seal tightly. Let sit to cool.
More information on preparing flavoring agents for vinegars and tips on preparing high-quality, flavored vinegars can be found in the University of Georgia’s publication Preserving Food: Flavored Vinegars. Safe preserving!