Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homemade Flavored Vinegars- frugal food tips

I first made flavored vinegars a few years ago for Christmas presents. After becoming a stay at home mom, I realized how difficult it can be to give on a one-income budget. I always loved searching for and buying the perfect gift for each person on my list, but it had become impossible to spend money on everyone, especially with my DH's large family. Thus began my new tradition of making homemade goodies for presents. One of my ideas was flavored vinegars. I had intended to give oils as well, but chickened out due to the slight chance of botulism. I know, it's silly, but it could happen, and with my luck it would. This is not a concern with vinegar, due to the acidity. These are super easy, frugal and fun. (And yes, I still make them for Christmas!)

The process is simple: fill a container with your choice of vinegar and flavorings such as herbs or certain produce. Let sit for 3-8 weeks in a cool place, preferably out of the light (I usually put mine in a pantry closet or cabinet.) When finished, you can strain the vinegar into a bottle or cruet, and add in fresh flavorings for appearance. It's that easy! Some of my favorite mixtures are:

  • red wine vinegar with rosemary

  • apple cider vinegar with lemon zest and peppercorns

  • apple cider vinegar with garlic

  • white wine vinegar with tarragon or chives

  • white vinegar with jalapenos

Experiment with other flavors you might enjoy. A good basic rule of thumb is that the lighter flavored ingredients should be paired with a light vinegar, such as white wine. Stronger herbs like rosemary can stand up to stronger vinegars. I use white vinegar rarely, but for something like chiles, it's great since the flavor of the peppers is so strong it could overwhelm subtle flavors in the more expensive vinegars. Speaking of cost, at restaurant supply stores you can find large jugs of vinegars frugally, and they often carry bottles or cruets also. For larger amounts, try repurposed wine bottles.

I am happy to post this at Pennywise Platter Thursday- check it out for more great tips!


Char said...

What do you use the flavored vinegars in? As salad dressings?

Cara said...

That's a really good idea! My dad's family is Italian, and they set out shallow bowls of flavored vinegar, and flavored olive oil, and squares of sourdough bread as a fancyish appetizer. I bet the bottles are proudly displayed on everyone's countertop.

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet said...

This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

Ooh, great gift idea. You can also make infused flavored olive oil this way.

mahmommy said...

Char- yes, I use them in dressings with oil, also in marinades (usually for chicken) and in place of regular vinegar in things like cole slaw and german potato salad.

mahmommy said...

Cara and Amanda- thanks for sharing and I'm really glad you liked it. I plan on adding more easy homemade gift ideas over the next two months in preparation for the holiday season.
Kimi- as always, thank you for a wonderful forum for posting these ideas and finding so many great posts from others!

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