Herb Vinegars and Extracts
Herb Vinegar :The basic steps in making herbal and fruit vinegars to be used in cooking and for salad dressings are quite simple. Herbal vinegar tinctures are also quite often referred to as herbal vinegars, but are quite different, don't confuse the two. The goal of using vinegar to tincture herbs is to extract and preserve the medicinal qualities of the herbs and plants. Your goal with herbal vinegars is to add flavor and zest to your diet while consuming a substance so healthy it has been proclaimed a miracle cure all, especially for cases of arthritis, and digestive problems.
Experiment with various herbs to develop your favorite flavor. Any consumable herbs can be used alone or in combination. You will find many combinations that not only offer great taste, but extra added health benefits as well.
- Use a basic white or red wine, or cider vinegar.
- Wash all fruits,herbs and/or spices throughly and chop finely.
- Heat the vinegar gently till hot, (not boiling)
- Pour heated vinegar over herbs and let infuse in a covered container for 2 to 3 days, or weeks depending on the recipe. (If you are interested in extracting medicinal properties from herbs, the infusion time will be in weeks rather than days.) Infuse at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Kitchen cupboards are ideal for this. Shake the bottle every few days.
- Strain - remove all organic materials
- Pour flavored vinegar in a clean dry bottle and cork. Vinegar causes metal to deteriorate, so if you can't find a plastic or cork to fit the bottle of your choice cover the opening with wax paper before screwing on the lid. You can add back some sprigs of herbs or berries for decorative purposes, but make sure they stay submerged in the vinegar. Most flavored vinegars will last for months when stored in a cool, dark place. (refrigerator is fine), but for optimal flavor use within 3 months.
Using vinegar to tincture herbs. Alcohol has mostly displaced vinegar as a menstruum for making liquid herbal extracts, as it is far more efficient in extracting and preserving the medicinal properties of herbs. Vinegar is however passable solvent and useful in cases where you wish to avoid alcohol. When used in conjunction with alcohol, vinegar can sometimes assist in the extraction of alkaloid (base) substances from herbs. Such an extract containing both vinegar and alcohol is known as an acetous tincture.