Sunday, June 23, 2013

House-made Herbal Vinegars

Just picked and ready for infusing in apple cider vinegar, clockwise from top: dill heads and fronds; scallion blossoms and lovage leaves. Chive blossoms are also perfect for flavoring vinegars; use white wine vinegar and the purple chive flowers will tint the finished product a lovely shade of lilac.

The easiest all-purpose hot sauce is one you can make at home! Just rinse, dry and slit open several whole chilies. (Use whatever you like or have handy although hotter varieties such as habanero will increase to an almost demonic heat level over time). Place whole chilies in a clean jar and fill to the top with cider vinegar. Store in the fridge for 1 week then add salt to taste, shake well to dissolve and store in fridge. Keeps at least 6 months and just replenish with more vinegar as needed. A Lowcountry (i.e. southern Carolinas) variation swaps dry sherry for vinegar and isd liberally sprinkled over seafood bisques, She Crab soup and cooked greens. Skip the salt if using sherry.

Scallion blossom lending its onion-like bite to cider vinegar.

Dill vinegar makes good use of flowering dill heads. Most herbal vinegars need at least 2-3 weeks to infuse enough flavor. Just rinse and dry well any fresh herb and add to a large jar of vinegar. Store in a dark location (such as a closet) for a couple of week, strain into a sterilized jar and enjoy for months ahead. Note: label jars. Do NOT store large amounts of herbs in jar unless refrigerating.

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