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Flavored Vinegar: How to Make Your Own Infused Vinegars | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Make Flavored Vinegars

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Homemade Infused Vinegars Make for the Perfect Holiday Gift!

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Vinegars flavored with fruits, sprigs of herbs, or fiery peppers are so beautiful—adding great taste and interest to entrées and salads. Forget those overpriced (and often synthetic) flavored vinegars. Here are the steps to make your own flavored vinegar as well as two of our favorite recipes!

What Are Flavored Vinegars?

Flavored vinegars are exactly what their name suggests: vinegars that have been infused with a different flavor, usually from herbs, fruits, or spices. They can be used in any recipe that calls for plain vinegar. They add zest to salad dressings, sautéed vegetables, and meat marinades.

8 Steps to Making Flavored Vinegar

1. Select Your Fruit or Flavor

You can use a single flavor and a mix of flavors! It’s fun to experiment.

Herbs

Fresh rather than dried plant materials make the best vinegars. Add 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh herbs per pint of vinegar. If fresh herbs aren’t available, substitute 3 tablespoons of dried herbs.

Any of these culinary herbs add pizzazz to salad dressings (or soups and sauces):

  • basil,
  • oregano,
  • rosemary,
  • dill,
  • thyme, and
  • sage add pizazz

Spices

  • Try allspice berries, bay leaves, capers, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, coriander, cumin seeds, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, peppercorns, and/or mustard seed. Avoid ground spices, as they will cloud the vinegar.
  • The amount to use will depend on the spice; in general, allow ½ to 2 teaspoons of smaller spices, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, or 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks per pint of vinegar.

Fruit

Just about any edible berry will make a delicious vinegar. You can use fruit vinegars as you would use a vinegar made from leafy herbs. But the fruit vinegars really come into their own added to a fruit cup or pie filling to cut the sweetness and create a more complex flavor. Fruits often used to flavor vinegars include:

  • strawberries,
  • raspberries,
  • pears,
  • peaches and the
  • peel of oranges or lemons.

Allow the peel of one orange or lemon or 1 to 2 cups of fruit per pint of vinegar flavored.

Vegetables

  • Vegetables, such as fresh garlic cloves and jalapeno peppers, can also be used to add zest to vinegars. Thread these on thin bamboo skewers for easy insertion and removal. 
  • Allow 1 to 2 cups of vegetables (less if using hot peppers) per pint of vinegar.

2. Choose Your Vinegar

Use high-quality vinegar. Think about what color you would like to have as a base, as different vinegars and ingredients will affect the liquids’ hue. Also consider taste.

  • Fruits blend well with apple cider vinegar.
  • For delicately flavored herbs and fruit, consider distilled white vinegar.
  • For stronger-flavor spices, herbs, and vegetables, such as garlic, rosemary, or tarragon, try red-wine vinegars.

3. Prepare Your Jars

Since vinegar is high in acid, it’s safe and easy to make vinegar at home. However, a couple precautions need to be followed.

Always start out with clean supplies that have been washed in a dishwater or washed by hand with hot water and soup and rinsed well. 

For storing vinegar for keeping, we would advise sterilizing the jar(s) right before you fill the jars with your ingredients. After you wash the jars, submerge them in a pot of warm water over a stovetop. Bring the water to a boil, and boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. (At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft elevation.) After you sterilize the jars, just keep them in the warm water so that you fill them while they’re warm. 

If you using bands and lids, we would sterilize the bands along with the jars. Lids should always be newly-purchased and washed; no need to sterilize. If using screw caps, place caps in a saucepan of warm water, heat to just below boiling, and then remove from the heat source. Leave caps in the hot water until ready to use. If using corks, select new, pre-sterilized corks. Use tongs to dip corks in and out of boiling water 3 to 4 times. 

4. Prepare Your Fruits, Vegetables, or Herbs

  1. Peel, if needed; for citrus, remove as much pith (the white part) as possible. If using fresh herbs, remove any yellowed or wilted leaves and large stems. 
  2. Rinse in cool, running water to remove dirt and bits of debris; then dip briefly in a sanitizing bath (a teaspoon of chlorine bleach in six cups of water). Rinse again in cool water and pat dry.
  3. Use leaves or small foods whole or cut in half. Slice or cube large foods. Thread on a clean bamboo skewer for easy insertion and removal.
  4. Put small slices into a cheesecloth bag.
  5. Cut small slits in whole small peppers or garlic cloves.
  6. Gently bruise herbs and berries.

5. Pour Ingredients Into Jars

In warm, sterilized jars, add the flavoring ingredients, packing loosely. Cover with vinegar warmed to room temperature. Tamp the herbs/food down to release the air bubbles; then add more vinegar to completely submerge the plant material, leaving ¼ inch to ½ inch of headspace. (To draw out flavor, some cooks prefer to heat the vinegar to around 190°F, but not boiling, before pouring it into the jars.)

Cap tightly.

6. Infuse for 3 to 4 Weeks

Allow to stand in a cool, dark area for a month for flavors to develop. Shake the contents every few days.

(To test for flavor development, place a few drops of the flavored vinegar on some white bread and taste.)

7. Strain

When the desired flavor is reached, use damp cheesecloth or a coffee filter to strain the vinegar until it is clear. Discard the flavoring ingredients.

Pour the vinegar into clean, sterilized jars or bottles and add a sprig or two of fresh herbs or a small amount of fruit, vegetables, or spices for decoration.

Cap and seal tightly. Label and date. 

8. Store

Store in the refrigerator for best flavor retention. Flavored vinegars will last 6 to 8 months in the refrigerator. Or, they will last 2 to 3 months in a cool, dark place.

Two Flavored Vinegar Recipes

Raspberry Vinegar

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups white or wine vinegar

Wash 1 cup fresh raspberries in clean water. Bruise raspberries lightly and place in sterilized quart jar. Heat vinegar to just below boiling (190°F). Pour over raspberries in jar and cap tightly. Allow to stand two to three weeks in cool, dark place. Strain mixture through a fine meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth into a 2-cup glass measuring cup, pressing firmly on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Pour vinegar into a clean, sterilized pint jar. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. Makes 1 pint.

Herbal Vinegar

  • 4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sage leaves

Thoroughly wash herbs and dip in solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach in 6 cups water (to sterilize). Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Place herbs in sterilized quart jar. Heat vinegar to just below boiling point (190°F); pour over herbs. Cap tightly and allow to stand in cool, dark place for three to four weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out herbs. Pour vinegar into clean sterilized bottles with tight fitting covers. Add a fresh sprig of cleaned and sanitized parsley, if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.

Safety Precaution

  • Do not consume any flavored vinegar that has been stored in the light for more than 2 weeks; use for decoration only.
  • Again, if you wish to display your flavored vinegars on the shelf or in a kitchen window, they can be used for decoration only. 
  • Discard the vinegar if there is mold or signs of fermentation, such as bubbling or cloudiness.

Vinegars for cosmetics and health

Herb or fruit vinegars are also great for the rest of your body! For these purposes, I use apple cider vinegar in my conconctions.

  • Try using them as a final rinse to add luster and manageability to any hair type. Hair-specific herbs include rosemary, chamomile, and sage.
  • Similarly, a splash of herbal vinegar makes a time-honored, antiseptic skin toner.
  • Vinegar (herbal or straight) makes a good antiseptic or disinfectant that will kill nearly all bacteria and most molds and viruses.

Some research shows that vinegar helps people feel full sooner, so they eat less. It may cut the risk of diabetes and lower cholesterol. (Try adding a spritz of herbal vinegar to cooked vegetables instead of butter!)

Video Demo: How to Make Flavored Vinegar

Our short video will show you how to prepare and bottle your own infusions to create flavor combinations that will transform mealtimes.

Find out how to make your own gift jars for a special touch.

2023 Almanac Club