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How to Make Flavored Vinegar and Impress Even Yourself

by TopBusinessView

Herbs. Herbs are amazing additions to any flavored vinegar. Try sprigs of tarragon, basil, marjoram, rosemary, or thyme. These herby, earthy plants play well with subtle wine vinegars. With softer herbs, like tarragon and basil, you might need more when infusing, whereas the sturdier herbs, like rosemary, give a lot of fragrance with just one or two big sprigs. Wash the herbs before infusing. For tender green herbs, like tarragon, one small bunch will suffice for 2 cups vinegar, but for those heartier choices, a few sprigs will bring a lot of flavor without overwhelming the vinegar.

Spices. While whole spices alone might not make the most dynamic flavored vinegar, they are great for pairing with other ingredients. Juniper berries, black peppercorns, whole fennel seeds, and even dried, food-grade rose petals are just a few supporting spices that add richness and depth. For 2 cups vinegar, use anywhere from 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. of whole seeds and arils. For lighter, fluffier items, like rose petals, you can increase that by a couple tablespoons.

Fruit and vegetables. Scope out crisper drawer remnants like celery or fennel fronds. Or, turn to citrus peel, the star of infusions. Thanks to essential oils, it lends zippy zestiness. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from your chosen citrus. Then using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut away and discard the white pith from the strips (we don’t want that bitterness in the vinegar). Meyer lemon, yuzu, calamansi, and any kind of orange shine in this preparation. Like peppers, go with a 2:1 vinegar to fruit or vegetable ratio.

For more delicate fruits, like berries, don’t heat the vinegar. Just wash and dry the fruit, add it to the jar and then top with room-temperature vinegar. Let this one infuse in the fridge for 2–3 weeks, then strain out the fruit before using.

Roots and aromatics. Ingredients like ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and turmeric are high-reward additions, bringing intense aroma. For roots, wash and dry them, then cut into thin slices. With stalks like lemongrass, peel and discard the outer layers, smash the stalk with the back of your knife to release some of those essential oils, then slice. These ingredients add a lot of flavor with just a small amount—we’re talking a few slices of ginger or a stalk or two of lemongrass per 2 cups vinegar—and are great paired with other infusions.

Choose your own vinegar adventure by picking one ingredient, or up to four. Just be careful not to go overboard, which would result in a muddled taste. One of the great things about DIY flavored vinegar is that you can experiment with small batches. Need some inspiration? Here are a few combinations to get you started:

  • Distilled white vinegar + habanero + dried smoked chilies
  • Red wine vinegar + rosemary + orange peel + juniper berries
  • White wine vinegar + tarragon
  • Apple cider vinegar + celery + lemon peel
  • Coconut vinegar + lemongrass + ginger

How to use infused vinegars:

Flavored vinegars are a no-brainer when it comes to dressings, but their uses go beyond the salad bowl. Grab them to wake up pan sauces and marinades, as a condiment for meats, vegetables, and fruits—even a punchy ingredient for drinks. Here are four easy ways to show off your flavored vinegar:

Mignonette sauce: Combine the flavored vinegar of your choice (citrus, herb, and celery vinegars are brilliant here) with minced shallot and a few cracks of black pepper for a simple sauce for oysters and poached seafood.

Shrub-ish bevy: Muddle fruit with a tablespoon or two of flavored vinegar—citrus, herb, and root-infused vinegars complement many fruits—and sugar to taste. Once the sugar is dissolved, add ice and sparkling water. If you want to make it boozy, stir in a shot of your favorite spirit.

Grilled meats: Flavored vinegars are great splashed over roasted meats and barbecue, cutting through their fattiness and tempting you back for another bite. Hot pepper vinegar is a classic pairing for grilled meats in the American South, Brazil, and parts of Southeast Asia.

Sour Power:

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