Monday, December 8, 2008

Gifts From Your Kitchen - Flavored Gourmet Vinegars

Flavored vinegars are ultra-easy to make. They make elegant gifts, but why stop there? Make several varieties to keep in your own kitchen as well. Simply substitute your flavored vinegars for any recipes calling for the plain variety, to add an extra zip of flavor to your cooking.

You can use all kinds of bottles for your vinegars, from fancy ones that you buy, to old wine bottles (get new corks). I like to give a set of several flavors of vinegar packaged in small shaker topped bottles like you find oil and vinegar served in at Italian Restaurant (simply cover the top with plastic wrap before screwing on the shaker, in order to avoid spillage).

Use your creativity when making flavored vinegars. While I'll give you some suggestions here, don't feel you have to limit yourself to them. Also, you don't need to measure. Exact proportions of ingredients are not that important (although, once again, I'll give you guidelines).

You can buy wine vinegars inexpensively, by the gallon, in a restaurant supply houses or warehouse type food stores.

Some Flavor Suggestions

Basil, Lemon, Chive Vinegar:
1 cup white wine vinegar
3 large strips of lemon zest
3-4 whole leaves fresh basil
10 stalks fresh chives

Basil Peppercorn Vinegar:
1 cup white wine vinegar
4-5 leaves fresh basil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3-4 whole peeled garlic cloves

Dill Peppercorn Vinegar:
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 sprigs fresh dill
1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Garlic Green Onion Vinegar:
1 cup red or white wine vinegar
4-5 peeled whole garlic cloves
2-3 stalks green onions

Rosemary Garlic Vinegar:
1 cup red or white wine vinegar
4-5 peeled whole garlic cloves
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Spicy Chile Pepper Vinegar:
1 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 or 2 whole jalapeno peppers

OR -- use the following ingredients in any combination you see fit:
green onions
fresh mint
fresh oregano
fresh cilantro
whole peppercorns
lemon zest
lime zest
orange zest
grapefruit zest
orange zest
chile peppers
fresh tarragon
bay leaves

The process is simple. Cut your ingredients to a size that will be completely submerged in the liquid. Put ingredients into clean bottles and pour red or white wine vinegar over them. Cap the bottles and store in a cool dark place for at least three weeks. If you don't have that much time, you can speed the process up somewhat by heating the vinegar till it's lukewarm and pouring it over ingredients that have been chopped or crushed. Store this in a cool dry place for at least ten days, then strain and discard the chopped or crushed ingredients from the vinegar. Return the vinegar to a cleaned bottle and add new "whole" ingredients.

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1 comment:

Emily said...

What a great idea Cheri! I love it! plau they are always so pretty too!

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