Guest post by April from Frugal Homemaking
One of the recipients on my gift list this year enjoys following a healthy eating lifestyle. I wanted to make a homemade gift, but cookies, candies, and baked goods would not be ideal for this person. I had a light bulb moment when I saw how much he enjoyed creating new salad combinations–a flavored vinegar sampler would be perfect!
Infusions lend a lovely color to the vinegar, making it a practical and pretty consumable gift. These vinegars can be used in marinades, vinaigrettes, or exchanged in any recipe that calls for regular vinegar. This gift would be perfect for those who enjoy cooking and eating healthfully or anyone with a flair for the unusual.
What you’ll need:
- 4 glass cruets (or any small glass vessels with a narrow spout and a closure or cork)
- white distilled vinegar, 16 oz. or more
- 1/2 cup washed and crushed strawberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup washed and crushed blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 Tablespoon white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded (always use gloves when handling peppers!)
- 2 crushed garlic cloves or 1 tsp. minced garlic
- cheesecloth or coffee filters
- 4 pint-size canning jars
- 4 plastic canning lids
- labels and jar baubles, optional
1. In sterile canning jars, pour 4 oz. of vinegar in each (you may need more/less depending on the size of your cruets).
2. Add strawberries and 1 Tablespoons sugar to first; add blueberries and 1 Tablespoons sugar to second; add Italian herbs to third; add jalapeno pepper and cloves to the fourth.
3. Stir the sugar and fruits until the sugar is dissolved.
4. Secure lids to canning jars. Shake to combine contents of each of the four jars.
5. Let it stand in a cool place for a few hours to a couple weeks, allowing the mixture to steep and infuse the vinegar. Shake daily.
6. Strain the vinegar through a coffee filter-lined colander. Discard solids.
7. Pour infused vinegars into sterilized cruets.
8. Label and decorate.
Things to Consider:
- Vinegar is an ideal medium due to its acidic properties; bacterial growth is inhibited in such an environment. It is not necessary to refrigerate these infusions, but you may do so if you like.
- The longer you allow the infusion to steep, the stronger it will be. The longest recommendation I have seen is a month, but a week is plenty of time.
- You can substitute an herbal fruit tea bag for the fresh fruit, but I imagine the flavor will be less fresh.
- Do not use utensils or bowls made of reactive metals, like aluminum and cast iron.
April blogs about her attempts to live frugally, creatively, and contentedly at Frugal Homemaking. She is enjoying the wild ride of life with her husband Ben and two girls, Grace and Leah.