Monday, July 25, 2011

Make It Yourself Monday: Herbed Vinegar and Oil

Can you think of anything better for a light summer dinner than a crisp salad of freshly picked greens?  Not much comes close, especially if you dress your salad with a wonderful homemade herbed vinegar and herbed oil.  Pure summer perfection.  
I had the opportunity this weekend to spend a morning making delicious herbed oil and vinegars with a friend.  I loved this project because it’s so little work for such an amazing taste pay-off! You can use whatever herbs you have around because there’s really no way you can mess this up.  

Step One: Choose and Harvest your Herbs. Almost anything goes. Use whatever fresh herbs you have available, and feel free to mix and match. Because of the bounty of my dear friend’s herb garden, I used cuttings of tarragon, oregano, thyme, rosemary, dill, and lemon balm.

Step Two: Assemble your tools: You'll need various glass jars, a small funnel, and a rolling pin.

Step Three: Gently heat your vinegar or oil. It should be hot, even steaming, but definitely not boiling. You don’t want to cook the herbs.  I microwaved 8-12 oz of oil or vinegar in a glass measuring cup for about a minute, maybe two for the vinegar.

Step Four: Place herbs between two towels. Lightly roll over it several times with a rolling pin.  This releases the natural oils and fragrances of the herbs.

Step Five:  Add the herbs to your jar. Beautiful, decorative glass jars or even old wine bottles are wonderful for this. Try to make sure your herbs are cut side towards the bottom of the jar, so as many oils as possible infuse your liquid.

Step Six: Pour the oil or vinegar over your herbs, and seal shut. That’s all there is to it!

Yummy Combinations:
  • Dill and Lemon Balm in vinegar for a zesty cucumber salad
  • Oregano and Thyme in for an AMAZING dipping oil for crusty Italian bread
  • Rosemary, Crushed Peppercorn, and Lemon Balm for a basting oil (like Wegmans’) or  to drizzle over grilled veggies

Tips:
  • Any mild-tasting oil works for this project. Safflower or sunflower are best, but a mild olive oil will work as well.
  • For vinegar, I used apple cider, but plain white vinegar works well too.
  • Vinegars can be shelf-stored indefinitely in an air-tight container.  If it’s been a while, just give the herbs inside a glance and make sure they are still somewhat recognizable.
  • Oils are much more “touchy.”  Only make as much herbed oil as you will use within 3 months. 


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