I used to buy salad dressing and didn’t quite understand people who would add only vinegar and olive oil. While I also enjoyed that, I wanted more dynamic flavor in my salads. As I became wiser, I grew more and more interested in reducing my sugar intake and eating and cooking with more wholesome ingredients. I have always been fond of vinegar, knowing the abundance of health benefits it contains. The acidic properties help to draw out flavors in raw veggies in a powerful way. Vinegar also pulls minerals out of veggies and fruit, to make them even better for you and easier on digestion.
I have been curious about making herbal vinegar since I love a well-flavored vinegar on my salad and in my rice dishes. I buy them at specialty shops and have a small collection of three. I know how good vinegar is for you so I thought it was time to start experimenting with different flavors and varieties of my own.
With winter here, we may need to harvest our culinary herbs and preserve them so we don’t lose them. While we can freeze herbs, make pesto, and add them to tea and water ice cubes, creating custom vinegar is an easy and fun thing to do. They also make great gifts for the holidays!
Vinegar Flavor ideas
The choices are endless in herbal vinegar. Sweet and savory vinegar line the shelves of vinegar shops in local malls and beach town shopping centers. This is a good place to start, as you can taste samples to learn your favorites. If you grow own herbs, start there and infuse some of your fresh culinary herbs into a fine vinegar.
Check out this list of flavored vinegar for ideas:
- Blueberry Balsamic
- Blackberry Ginger
- Cinnamon Pear
- Cranberry Pear
- Green Apple White Balsamic
- Honey Orange
- Lavender Balsamic
- Jalapeno Lime
- Elderberry Honey
- Yarrow Lime
- Oregano Balsamic
- Rosemary Garlic
- Lemon Mint
- Dill Lime
- Nettle Mint
- Sage Balsamic
- Mustard Seed
- Chilli Pepper
- Chive Mint and Chive Garlic
- Scallion Lemon
The list of benefits is long for vinegar. If you do not like the taste of vinegar, this is a wonderful time for you to try flavored vinegar to get on board with the amazing health effects that will be yours.
- Balances PH levels in the body
- Increases immunity
- Lowers glucose levels for diabetics
- Reduces inflammation
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Relieves arthritis
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Clears up fungus
- Reduces migraines
- Improves digestion
- Dissolves kidney stones
- Helps reduce and prevents acne
Types of vinegar to use
Organic! I highly recommend buying organic vinegar to make your herbal infusions. Also, choose local if you have options near you. Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the mother is the best for making flavored vinegar. This is not a refined vinegar and still has its culture with beneficial bacteria. This is like the SCOBY when making homemade kombucha.
Below is a list of different types of vinegar to try. You want to choose vinegar with 5% acidity. *If your flavored vinegar grows a SCOBY on top, remove with clean and dry tongs or a fork and reseal.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- White Balsamic Vinegar
- Rice Wine
- Champagne Vinegar
- Sherry Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Ume Plum Vinegar
How to Make Herbal Vinegar
When preparing ingredients for your flavored vinegar, you can use fresh or dried herbs and fruits. If using fresh herbs, make sure they have been washed and dried thoroughly. I like to set them out on a clean dishcloth and let air dry for at least an hour. You want to avoid adding water to the vinegar as this can cause bacteria to grow. And I’m not talking about the good kind of bacteria!
If using fruit, make sure to use fresh fruit and not frozen fruit as the water content will be higher.
Use a glass jar as plastic containers will seep chemicals into your fine organic vinegar. Sterilize them first by placing them into boiling water for 10 minutes.
Additional items to have around: cheesecloth, parchment paper, sharpie markers, rubber bands, labels, and a fine mesh strainer, for all stages of production.
There is a heated vinegar process you can use, before adding to your herbs or fruit, but I prefer the unheated method as it seems kinder to my ingredients. I want to retain as much flavor and minerals from the herbs and fruits that I use, therefore I have only tried the unheated method for making herbal vinegar.
I have only used fresh herbs and fruits when making vinegar and use a 2 to 1 ratio. (Twice the amount of vinegar covers the ingredients). If you are using dried herbs, add 2 Tablespoons per pint jar and fill with vinegar (15:1 ratio).
Fill the jar to about a half-inch of the top.
Make sure to clean off excess vinegar from the top.
Cover with parchment paper and add a rubber band to seal.
Store in a cool and dark place for 2 to 4 weeks.
Don’t forget to label and date your jar!
If using roots, you may need to infuse for up to a month to fully extract the flavors into the vinegar. I like removing the parchment paper after a week and adding a tight sealing lid (mason jar metal lids with a rubber seal) so I can shake it daily to mix and add a little love.
What can you use your herbal vinegar for:
- Salad dressing base
- Add a sprinkling to fish
- Add to a rice dish
- Add a dash to sparkling water for a delicious and healthy drink
- Add to honey for a yummy medicine
- Add to tea or craft cocktails
I hope to have inspired you to create herbal vinegar to add more flavor and health to your daily recipes.
Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht is a wonder with all things herbal. Incorporating herbs and natural remedies into your life is a great way to stay grounded and connected to the earth. There is a time and a place for conventional medicines and medical interventions and there is a time and a place for starting out with herbs to treat what ails you. Use your intuition, do your research, and feel free to reach out to Jennifer for a consultation.
Jennifer Vollbrecht is the owner of You, Me, and Uni. She sells two tea blends and a book on Feminism, which she co-authored with her sister. She can be reached by email @: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a writer, editor and the owner of Walden Writes For Women.