Ann is an avid gardener, cook and garden writer, and a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. She tends to her old farmhouse and organic homestead where she raises blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and elderberries, as well as fruit and nut trees. Ann grows vegetables and herbs in raised beds and containers that are tucked into a lush landscape of perennial gardens in the scenic Winooski River Valley. A trained horticulturist and ecological landscape designer, she is the author of four gardening books, including Organic Gardening for Dummies, and is a longtime contributor to many magazines, websites and other publications.
Make three types of vinegar with the
Artisan Vinegar Making Kit. From left, Orange, Lemongrass & Star Anise, Rosemary Peppercorn, and Tarragon
BEAUTIFUL, delicious restaurant salads often feature special flavored vinegars that would be great to replicate at home. Even if you don’t know much about different kinds of vinegar, you can get delicious results with the
Artisan Vinegar Making Kit.
Components of the
Artisan Vinegar Making Kit
The kit contains everything you need to make your own fancy, flavored vinegars. Even opening the box smells wonderful because it’s full of herbs and spices, organic red wine, white wine and rice vinegars, plus recipes and pretty bottles with corks. Even some of the tools are included. The simple instructions are easy to follow, too. Start to finish, I made six bottles of infused vinegar in about 45 minutes. It’s a great project to do with kids, and the results make perfect gifts, if you can bear to give them away.
Using a folded-paper funnel to add dried herbs.
Filling the narrow-necked bottles can be tricky. To add herbs, fold a piece of clean paper and pour the herbs onto it. Place the end of the fold at the mouth of the jar and tap the paper to pour the herbs. Use the enclosed funnel to add the hot vinegar to within 3/4" of the top. If you accidentally overfill, use a drinking straw to remove the excess.
Orange, Lemongrass & Star Anise Vinegar has a wonderful mix of flavors for Asian cooking, marinade and salads, especially coleslaw. Tip: Because the spices are bulky, it’s easier to make this in a clean canning jar. When it’s done steeping, strain the vinegar into decorative bottles. If you want to make it directly in the jars, chop the orange peel into small pieces and break up the star anise. These will swell to at least double in size as they absorb the vinegar.
Rosemary Peppercorn Vinegar packs a wallop that pairs well with beef and earthy vegetables, such as beets and steamed greens. The red wine vinegar base adds color and depth to vinaigrettes, too. For a milder flavor, I reduced the peppercorns by half.
Tarragon Vinegar is perfect for chicken marinades and vinaigrettes. The kit contains 4 tablespoons of dried tarragon that I split between the two bottles. This recipe is as easy as it gets and the classic flavor lends itself to many dishes. Try it in a cold bean salad or mix it with olive oil as a bread dip.
After the vinegars have steeped for four weeks, strain them through the dampened cloth (included in the kit) into a clean measuring cup. Empty all the herbs and spices out of the bottles and clean them thoroughly, along with the corks. Pour the finished vinegars back into the bottles, cork and store in the fridge for up to a year.
When paired with homemade labels, the finished vinegars make great gifts. Labels by Kate Whitman
Its name comes from the French words for sour wine, vinaigre, which perfectly describes the two-step fermentation process used to make vinegar. The process usually begins with fruit or another starchy or sugary plant part that is fermented by yeast to form alcohol.
In the second step, acetobacter bacteria convert or “sour” the alcohol into acetic acid. That’s how hard cider becomes apple cider vinegar and red wine becomes red wine vinegar. The flavor and character of the final vinegar is determined by the ingredients used to make it, as well as the process itself.
Vinegar has been known and used for at least 10,000 years as a preservative, disinfectant, food condiment and beverage. It’s an essential ingredient in pickles, salad dressings, barbeque sauce, mustard, marinades, glazes, switchel and more.
Food-grade vinegar contains at least 4 percent acidity, by FDA regulation, to ensure its safety for use as a food preservative. More highly concentrated (20 to 30 percent), non-food vinegars are strong enough to kill plants and are used as herbicides.
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