Recipes by Lori Ross
Flavored vinegars add excitement to salads, marinades and sauces. They also make special gifts that are easy to make aboard the boat. Because vinegar is high in acid, it does not support the growth of botulism bacteria. I usually use distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar (USDA Extension service says that rice and wine vinegars are susceptible to E.Coli bacteria if herbs, fruits and vinegar are not boiled or dipped in a mild bleach solution before bottling.
Basic Herb Vinegar Recipe
1 cup fresh herbs, for example, sage, thyme, rosemary,
1 quart distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar
Glass bottles with covers or stoppers
Place herbs of choice, in bottle of vinegar. Place in cool, dark place (hanging locker, cabinet, under seats, in the bilge or in refrigerator for 2 weeks; after 2 weeks, the vinegar is ready to bottle.
Preparing the gifts:
Select and prepare containers. Use only glass jars or bottles that are free of cracks or nicks and can be sealed with a screw-band lid, cap or cork. Wash containers thoroughly. Filter Vinegar and bottle: Pour vinegar mixture through several coffee filter papers, discarding the herbs. Pour into clean bottles and top with cork or cap. Write out recipe cards and punch out one corner.
Vinegar should be stored in refrigerator for maximum flavor retention and it is good for 6 months or more. Do not display herb and fruit vinegars on a window sill or in the sun. If left out for more than a few weeks, the vinegar will not retain its maximum flavor.
*Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water and peel, if necessary, before use. Berries should be placed in vinegar whole with a couple mashed berries and larger fruits should be cut into pieces
** Thread these on thin bamboo skewers for easy insertion and removal.
For more interesting flavors, add the following to original vinegar batch:
Lemon-Herb Vinegar: Add 1 long spiral lemon rind along with one sprig of herb in final bottling.
Spicy Herb Vinegar: Add 2 dried chili peppers
Garlic Herb Vinegar: Add 4 cloves of garlic
Pepper-Herb Vinegar: Add 12 peppercorns
Fruit Vinegar: Add 4 cups berries, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums
Citrus Vinegar: Add the rind of 2 oranges or lemons
Asian Vinegar: Add 1-inch of fresh peeled ginger and 1 cup fresh cilantro
For colorful vinegars, add the following to original vinegar batch:
Fushia – 8 sprigs fresh Purple Basil leaves
Celadon– 8 sprigs fresh tarragon, rosemary, sage, thyme or dill
Pale pink - 2 cups raspberries or strawberries
Pale Blue – 2 cups blueberries (I cup smashed before putting in vinegar)
Peach - 2 cups fresh peach, nectarine or apricot slices
Flavored Salts and Peppers
Flavored salts and peppers are fun to use and a treat to receive. I once received a “do it yourself” pepper mixing kit made up of a lovely basket of various peppercorns (white, black, pink, etc.) and spices (fennel seed, caraway seed, lemon and orange peel) and a peppermill. I’m still mixing combinations from that gift! Use your imagination in mixing combinations for gifts, taste as you go along and toss in a pepper or salt mill or shaker or salt cellar to complete the gift. Add a recipe card to the container of flavored salts or peppers (see flavored vinegar above) or simply write how to use the salts and peppers (e.g. sprinkle seasoning onto vegetables and meats before cooking, or pass it at the table)
Basic Flavored Salt and Pepper
Makes one cup
1 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea salt) or 1 cup whole or cracked peppercorns*
8 tablespoons mixed spices (whole or ground depending on recipe you choose below)
Pepper mills, salt mills, jars or bottles with stoppers or caps
Mix salt or pepper and seasonings thoroughly and place in clear dry glass jars with cork, stopper or screw top lid or in salt or peppermills. If you are including a recipe with punch hole, tie raffia or a ribbon through the recipe card hole and tie a pretty bow.
Ideas for seasoned flavored salts and peppers:
Tex-Mex Pepper: Mix peppercorns with crushed red peppers, whole cumin and coriander seeds*
Lemon Pepper: Mix peppercorns with dried lemon peel
Tex-Mex Salt: Mix salt with chile powder, cumin powder and oregano.
Sel de Provence : Mix salt with dried lavender, dried thyme, rosemary and dried orange peel
Vietnamese pepper: Mix peppercorns with star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick
Tuscan Salt: Mix salt with dried rosemary, basil and dried lemon peel.
Caraway seeds and pepper
* use sea salt and whole peppercorns if you are making gift for use in salt and pepper mills; use kosher salt and cracked whole pepper for use in a shaker or container at the table.