Infused vinegar is the hot new condiment
As a potential topping or finishing drizzle, vinegar is the forgotten sister. But because it has the potential to be infused in as many different ways as oil, it’s about time we started looking at the other half of the caddy on Italian restaurant tables.
Herb-infused vinegar is delightfully straightforward to make. You just need your herbs of choice and a jar or container that can be sealed. After about a week, you pour the vinegar through a strainer and you’re done. It will keep for several months stored in a ceramic or glass container, and you’ll know by the color or smell when it has gone bad.
You want to stay away from white vinegar or distilled vinegar — the taste is too harsh to pick up an infused flavor. Champagne, white wine and red wine vinegars are all good choices as the base. After that, don’t try to combine several herbs to create something fantastical; instead, use a good quantity of one strongly scented herb like tarragon or basil.
You can also use fresh fruit to add sweetness and create a really simple, clean dressing. The flavor of pears goes well with balsamic vinegar and can be used with sliced avocados or pan-seared scallops.
It’s also a way to rescue slightly over ripe fruits. While pears, grapes or plums just require the same steps as herb-infused vinegar; peaches and raspberries tend to call for a process similar to canning. You boil the fruit and vinegar together before adding the liquid to a sealed container.
Infusing vinegar is a way to create some interesting flavors without blowing your grocery budget. But be careful kids, it’s a gateway to home brewing and canning.
[Image via Flickr: AdamJackson1984]