Herbal Vinegars

Herbal vinegars are easy to make and totally worth that extra flavor they add to foods - not to mention they are gorgeous.

 

I make herbal vinegar by combining herbs with White Distilled Vinegar.   Some of my favorites are Oregano, Rosemary, and Basil.

Purple Basil 

I gather my herbs first thing in the morning.

When I bring them in I wash them thoroughly and allow them to sit on the towel for about 30 minutes - I typically turn them on the towel at least once so that most of the excess water is absorbed into the towel.  As I wash the leaves and stems (if I am using stems) and make sure I'm only keeping the healthiest of leaves and stems so I get maximum flavor.

While my herbs dry a little (I don't want them to wilt) I prep my garlic.  I use whole cloves in my herbal vinegars.  For every cup my jar will hold I use 2 cloves of garlic.  So, a pint jar has 4 cloves and a quart 8.

getting garlic ready - this garlic is from our garden also

When I put the herbs in the jar I do not pack them in.  I just fill the jar.  If I have to push it in to get more leaves in the jar I consider it full.

Lastly, I bring my vinegar to a boil.  I use enough vinegar to fill each jar of leaves I have.  I prefer Mason jars because it keeps the math easy, but any glass jar with a tight fitting lid will work just fine.

Once to the vinegar has come to a good solid boil I turn it off and let it cool a minute (I don't want to break the glass jars).  Using a funnel I pour the vinegar over the leaves and garlic just under the rim.  There is pressure that builds up in the jar so you need to be sure to leave room for it.

Vinegar ready to sit for 30 days

The vinegar needs to sit in a dark place for about 30 days so it can draw all the deliciousness out of the leaves.

After 30 days

Once it's done, pop the lid, strain it (cheesecloth is great - mine was dirty from some comfrey massage oil I made the other day), so I used a sieve instead.  I don't bother chopping up my leaves - some leaves release their flavor even better when crushed or serrated.  I get enough flavor without taking the extra step, but you always can.

strain

When you're all done make sure you keep in a jar with a lid that seals.  I store mine in the fridge, but it does have a nice shelf life in an air tight container. 6-8 months.

To cook with it you use it anywhere you would use vinegar that you are itching to have a little extra umpf of flavor!

Winters looking pretty tasty! 

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harvest to healing

Busy morning in the kitchen teaching a friend how to make tinctures, salves, and herbal vinegars.  We made Yarrow Tincture (for colds and coughs in the winter), Lemon Balm (for upset tummys and anxiety), Purple Basil Vinegar, and healing salve.

Healing Salve:

Cover herbs in oil (I never measure - I use what I have and cover it making sure to cut up any fresh herbs.  This salve has yarrow, plantain, calendula, lavender, and comfrey covered and rendered for 2 hours) 

Render herbs in oil on very low heat for at least 2 hours. Stir occasionally and ensure all the herbs stay under the oil while it draws. (I like to allow mine to steep for 4-6 hours if possible ensuring the oil does not burn)

Allow the oil to cool and strain through a cheese cloth - measure the amount of oil you made - I strain my oil directly into a measuring cup

While oil cools bring a double broiler of water to a low boil. (I did not know what a double boiler was the first time I heard the term - it is two pots stacked.  The bottom pot has water in it that comes to a boil and the inner pot is used for cooking).

Add the oil to the inner pan (you want to make sure there is no water bubbling or splashing into the inner pan.)

Once the water is boiling add the oil and begin heating it back up.  Also add 4 tbsp of beesbax beads for every 1 cup of oil.

Allow the beeswax to melt and mix with the oil stirring constantly.

Pour into airtight containers.  (You can add oils when you pour it if you wish - be sure to use oil that are safe for skin contact)

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Sauce

Sauce:

I don't measure anything...

I cut up two or three onions and begin cooking them in olive oil (I use bacon or sausage grease if I have it).

Once the onions begin to look tender and soft I throw in the garlic and a handful of basil leaves.

When the basil leaves have wilted I begin adding the tomatoes - skin and all and I add about a teaspoon of salt and a table spoon of black pepper corns.  I let this simmer on medium low until it begins to thicken - stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes. (30 min - 40)

As it thickens I add about a 1/2 cup of homemade chicken broth and a second handful of basil leaves (though I usually cut these up).  (another 10 minutes or so - consistency is up to you)

When the sauce is to the consistency we like I take it off the stove and let it cool.

We eat what we're going to for the evening and pour the remainder into mason jars and freeze for winter.  (Remember anytime you freeze something in glass you have to make sure to leave room at the top of the jar for expansion while frozen or the glass will break)

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