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                        Herbal Vinegars & Oils
Herbal Vinegar's are versatile in use, easy to make, fun to experiment with and can be customized to fit your own special tastes.  Additionally, herbal flavored vinegar's make great gifts, especially when packaged in decorative bottles and labeled creatively.

Raspberry Vinegar
1 pint raspberries
2 Qts. 4% white wine vinegar

Wash fruit very gently and place in 3 Qt. glass or ceramic container Heat the vinegar up to boiling, do not boil. Pour vinegar over fruit and seal.  If you are using a metal lid, be sure to insert a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap between lid and jar.  This is to prevent any reaction between metal and the vinegar.  Affix a temporary label and store for  four to six weeks in a dark place.   
Remove from storage and strain the vinegar through a coffee filter and store in sterilized bottles.  This vinegar is especially attractive and makes a wonderful gift when placed in a decorative bottle adorned with a creative label or bow.    
Variations to the above recipe:  Blueberry, peach or apricot.  Blueberry can be used with red, white wine or champagne vinegar.  Add a cinnamon stick to each bottle for added flavor and appealing appearance.
Mixed Herb Vinegar
2 sprigs of tarragon
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs of marjoram
2 sprigs of salad burnet
2 sprigs of parsley
6 sprigs of chive(leaves)
1 Qt. white wine vinegar
(optional garlic can be added if desired. 1med. clove).
Follow the preparation as indicated in the recipe above.
This vinegar fairs best if strained once all the flavors have blended.
I use this vinegar as a base for preparing my own salad dressing.  It is great as a stand alone dressing as well using only a bit of olive oil.

Spicy Italian
2 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of oregano
1 sprig of sage(optional)
2 or 3 small sprigs of basil
1 lg. garlic clove
1 T black or mixed peppercorns(mixed works best)
1 Qt. red wine vinegar
optional- for added zest, add 1/8 t of dried crushed red pepper.
Strain prior to storing in final stage. You can add a fresh sprig of thyme or oregano for appearance.
This vinegar works well as a meat marinade for chicken, beef or pork.
I have used it as a basting sauce for grilled fish.  Keeps the fish moist and flavorable.
Used plain sprinkled over fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.( If you find it a bit too tangy add a pinch of sugar when serving).
Mix with Olive oil  and a little salt for a quick salad dressing.

Flavored Oils

Flavored herb oils are just as versatile as flavored vinegar's.  There is one advantage to the oils vs vinegar's, and that is they can be a quick and convenient substitute for pasta sauce.  I always have one or more flavored oils in the refrigerator ready to use for preparing a quick pasta side dish.  I use virgin olive oil mainly for the health benefits.  It's a good source of Vit. E & K and  mono-
unsaturated fat which helps keep your (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in check.  I also prefer the taste.  You can use any good vegetable oil and get excellent results.  

Preparation is very simple with only a few things to remember. Always use squeaky clean containers, strain the herbs out of the oil after flavoring and store in refrigerator.  The whole process takes about two weeks.

Ratio is one cup of herb or other flavorings to one quart of oil.

If you grill a lot, you will find that these oils make a wonderful basting sauce; keeping the meat moist  and adding flavor without  added preservatives, salt and sugar. You can fashion your homemade oils to your personal taste.

Here are a few examples:

Oils for grilling:  Use aromatic herbs of provence.  Rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, oregano and bay leaf.  

Herbs of Provence Oil.
3 sprigs of Rosemary-marjoram-oregano
2 sprigs of thyme and basil
2 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
1 Qt. Of oil of choice.

Stir Fry: Cilantro, garlic, ginger, chives  star anise, coriander and if you like it hot, dried chilies.

Southwestern flavor: Chilies, garlic, cilantro and cumin seed are the basics.
Southwestern Oil
or collards, can be added for color.
3 dried hot red peppers
1 garlic clove
1 small bunch of cilantro
1t cumin seed
4 sprigs of oregano
1 Qt. Oil of choice.

Pasta Oil

3 sprigs of sage
2 garlic cloves
1 small bunch of parsley
1 small hot red pepper
5 ounces of  fresh parmesan cheese cut in small chunks
1Qt. Oil of choice.

Goes well with cooked tortellini with added cherry tomatoes cut in half and a small amount fresh sage.  Chopped fresh greens, i.e. spinach, arugola

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