Spring is in the air. The weather is changing and gardening season is almost here. And I’m so excited to get to growing things again.
I’m looking forward to having our garden in full swing producing healthy produce and fresh herbs. There’s just something about fresh herbs from the garden…they can make any food recipe into something extra special and satisfying. Honestly, I also love that my herb garden doesn’t require much effort from me. I just kinda clean it up a bit when I have time, and otherwise, I simply reap the rewards.
There are so many different things you can do with herbs grown straight from your garden. You can use them in just about any recipe, add them to homemade cleaning supplies, make infused herbal oils, mix them with salt (Like my Homemade Herb Salt) and even create your own fancy herbal vinegar.
Herbal vinegar is a great addition to your pantry and it will add flavor to any recipe. Bonus: they are easy to make in your kitchen: all you really need are two ingredients and a little bit of time.
And the best part? You can get super creative with trying different herb and vinegar combos until you find your absolute favorite flavor mix. Plus, you can either store them in mason jars for a simple and classic homestead look OR you can have fun putting them in pretty jars to become part of your kitchen décor (while still practical for use in cooking).
What is Herbal Vinegar?
Herbal vinegar is just another name for herb-infused vinegar. ‘Infused’ simply means to soak your herbs in your choice of liquid to add a little bit of flavor. Olive oil is the most common liquid for infusing and preserving fresh herbs (here’s how I preserve herbs in oil).
Herb-infused vinegar, then, is made when herbs are steeped in your choice of vinegar for an extended period of time. This simple process is to give your vinegar a little or a lot (depending on your taste) of extra herb flavor. When your herbal vinegar is added to a recipe, it gives that recipe an additional boost of herb flavor, too.
Ways to Use Herbal Vinegar
Vinegar is used for many different things in the kitchen and household, and infusing vinegars with herbs doesn’t change the composition; it only changes the flavor and smell. These herbal vinegars can be used interchangeably in any recipe where vinegar is needed.
Some examples for using herbal vinegar:
- Salad dressings
- Marinades for meats
- Roasting vegetables
- A great addition to pasta salads
- Pickling (learn how to quick pickle any veggie here)
- Add a splash to soups for taste
- DIY Gift giving
Note: For the best results when using herb-infused vinegar in recipes, try to stick with a similar vinegar. For example: if a recipe calls for red wine vinegar, you may want to substitute it with an herb-infused red wine vinegar.
Cleaning with Herb-Infused Vinegar
Distilled vinegar is widely used as a natural all-purpose cleaning product. The downside to this is the smell that it leaves behind. A way around the smell is to infuse your cleaning vinegar with different herbs and citrus peels.
If you need a good base recipe for a DIY All-Purpose Cleaner, check out my All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner recipe here and feel free to add some herbs or herbal vinegars to it for some extra awesomeness.
Methods Used to Create Herbal Vinegar
Creating your own herb-infused vinegar is really simple and only requires a few ingredients. However, there are two different methods you can use to infuse your vinegar. You can use either the heated method or the unheated method.
The heated method is when your vinegar of choice is heated on the stovetop until it is 180 degrees. Then it is poured over the herbs you have chosen. The unheated method is when you simply combine unheated vinegar with the herb you have chosen.
Note: When you are using dried herbs, the heated method tends to work best for bringing the flavors out.
Vinegars and Herbs to Choose From
There are different vinegar options and herb combinations that you can use to create your own infusions. As I mentioned earlier, your herbal vinegar can be substituted in any recipe that calls for vinegar. Choosing your vinegar depends on your taste preferences and also what it will be used for later.
Different kinds of vinegar options can include:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- White Wine Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Champagne Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- Basic White Distilled Vinegar
If you are unsure which vinegar to use for your first homemade herb vinegar, you might want to try white wine vinegar. It is a pretty neutral (both scent and flavor) vinegar, so you can add some herbs to it and get a good feel for what herb combos you like the best before adventuring into the bolder vinegars out there. And if you’re new to the world of homemade salad dressings, marinades, etc., you might want to check out my Prairie Homestead Cookbook, which includes simple and delicious recipes that anyone can make in their kitchen.
When you are choosing herbs, the sky is the limit; you can use just one herb or get creative with different combinations. The herbs you use can be either dried or fresh when you are making herbal vinegar at home.
Herbs to Choose From Include:
- Lemon Balm
While you are deciding what herbs to use, it is always a good idea to keep in mind what vinegar you have decided on. A stronger vinegar may overpower subtle herbs and strong herbs may overwhelm a lighter vinegar.
Basic Herb and Vinegar Combinations to Try:
- Champagne Vinegar & Lemon Thyme
- Rice Vinegar & Mint
- Balsamic Vinegar & Thyme
- White Wine Vinegar & Lemon Balm
- White Wine Vinegar & Dill Weed & Garlic Cloves
- Red Wine Vinegar & Sage & Thyme & Rosemary & A Few Peppercorns
How to Make Your Own Herbal Vinegar
What You Will Need to Make Herbal Vinegar:
- 2 Cups Vinegar of Your Choice
- 1 Cup Fresh Herbs or 2 Tablespoons Dried Herbs
- Glass Jars
- Saucepan (if using the heated method)
- Fine Mesh Sieve or Cheese Cloth
- Fancy Finishing Bottle
Herbal Vinegar Instructions
Step 1: Choose the vinegar and herb combination you will be making and decide if you will be using the heated or unheated method.
Step 2: Place the herbs that you have chosen into your glass jar.
Step 3: Heated method – pour 2 cups of vinegar into a saucepan and heat until 180 degrees, then pour over the herbs you placed in the jar.
Non-Heated method – Simply pour two cups of vinegar over your herbs in the jar.
Step 4: Seal your jar and allow your herbs to steep (preferably in a dark and cool place) for an extended period of time, usually about 2 weeks (more or less time depending on your tastes). If you remember, gently shake your jar every other day to help with the steeping and mixing process.
Step 5: After your herbs have steeped, pour your vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into another jar or finishing bottle (this will remove any remaining herb bits).
Step 6: (Optional) Add a fresh piece of your chosen herb to the finished jar or bottle. This is simply for looks.
Note: This recipe will also work for infusing vinegar you plan to use for cleaning the home. Judge the doneness by your desired smell not taste.
Enjoy your homemade pantry addition in your favorite recipes that use vinegar (it’s REALLY good for homemade salad dressings).Print
How to Make Herbal Vinegar
An herbal vinegar is a wonderful way to preserve garden herbs and also to give your recipes a boost of flavor.
2 Cups Vinegar of Your Choice
1 Cup Fresh Herbs or 2 Tablespoons Dried Herbs
- Choose the vinegar and herb combination you will be making and decide if you will be using the heated or unheated method.
- Place the herbs that you have chosen into your glass jar.
- Heated method – pour 2 cups of vinegar into a saucepan and heat until 180 degrees, then pour over the herbs you placed in the jar. Non-Heated method – Simply pour two cups of vinegar over your herbs in the jar.
- Seal your jar and allow your herbs to steep (preferably in a dark and cool place) for an extended period of time, usually about 2 weeks (more or less time depending on your tastes). If you remember, gently shake your jar every other day to help with the steeping and mixing process.
- After your herbs have steeped, pour your vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into another jar or finishing bottle (this will remove any remaining herb bits).
- (Optional) Add a fresh piece of your chosen herb to the finished jar or bottle. This is simply for looks.
This recipe will also work for infusing vinegar you plan to use for cleaning the home. Judge the doneness by your desired smell not taste.
Have You Tried Herbal Vinegars?
Have you passed those fancy bottles of herbal vinegar at the grocery stores and wondered what it is all about? Well, now you know that with only 2 ingredients you can create your own.
Have you tried making your own herbal vinegar in the past? Do you have a combination you love? I am always looking for a new burst of flavor and ways to use herbs.
Making your own herbal vinegars is a wonderful way to add a boost of creativity to your kitchen skills and recipes. Plus, it’s a great way to preserve your herbs and make sure you use them as much as possible during the spring and summer season.
My favorite place to purchase bulk dried herbs is Farmhouse Teas. Use the code PRAIRE10 for a special discount.
More About Herbs:
- Have a listen to podcast episode: How to Preserve Fresh Herbs for Later
- How to Make Homemade Herbal Salt
- How to Preserve Herbs in Oil
- Herbs for Chicken Nesting Boxes
- Top 10 Healing Herbs to Grow
- Homemade Fruit Slushies with Herbs