Making Infused Vinegars
I love apple cider vinegar! And, yes, I am going to marry it.
Made from the juice and odd pieces of apples, it is a healthy alternative to use in cleaners, beauty products, home remedies, and cooking. But, to get even more out of vinegar, try making a vinegar infusion. Herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and even tree bark can be made into an infusion.
First, I will outline how I make my own vinegar infusions. Then I will share how I use different types of infusions, and include some recipes.
The Ingredients and Equipment I Use to Make Infused Vinegars:
This is obviously the most important ingredient, so make sure that a good-quality vinegar is used. Some vinegars being sold as Apple Cider are merely white, distilled vinegars with apple flavoring and coloring added. Make sure to read the label!
One Cup of Herb (or fruit, veggie, etc...) Of Your Choice
For simplicity, I will just use the term "herb" to describe what I am infusing, but remember that you can infuse a wide variety of organic materials. Be sure to thoroughly clean your herbs before using them. It may be necessary to cut up the herbs in order for them to fit in the jar.
Really, you can use any container you have on hand, but I always stay away from metal or plastic. Metal will react with acidic vinegar, and I find that plastic leaves a funny taste. We already have many jars floating around from canning, but glass bottles and jars from other foods can be saved and reused. Just be sure that the containers are thoroughly cleaned before you use them. You can boil jars for 15 minutes to sterilize them.
The Process I Use to Make Infused Vinegars:
This is very similar to the process I described in a previous blog: Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner: Lemon-Lime Vinegar
1. Combine the ingredients.
Place your cleaned herbs in a sterile jar. Pour in enough apple cider vinegar to completely cover the herbs. I will normally go to about 1" below the rim. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well.
2. Let it infuse.
Find a cool, dark place to store your jar while the vinegar and herbs infuse. I like to shake the jar every few days to get the most out of my herbs. I let the infusion sit for about two weeks.
3. Strain it and use it.
Once your infusion has done its time, you can strain out the herbs. I use a piece of nylon for this purpose, but a screen or cheesecloth could be used just as well. Compost the herbs, save the vinegar. You can put it back in the jar, a pretty bottle, or use it right away. It stores well, and has a shelf life of approximately six months.
Uses for Infused Vinegars:
Infused vinegars make great all-purpose cleaners (see link above for Lemon-Lime Cleaner). Simply place your infused vinegar in a spray bottle. To make it a bit stronger, you can add a teaspoon of borax and washing soda (but beware if you add washing soda; it will fizz up at first). Here is a list of things to infuse for cleaning purposes:
Lemons, Limes, Pine Needles, Oranges, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Cinnamon Bark
Infused vinegar can be used to clean most hard surfaces, such as counter tops, floors, refrigerators and stoves, walls, and trash cans. If you are unsure as to whether or not it's safe to use, wipe a little cleaner on a small, inconspicuous spot and allow it to sit for several hours as a test.
Infused vinegars can be used to care for your skin and hair. I have used vinegar as a hair rinse (it is a great substitute for conditioner) and facial astringent, and have even heard of it being used to soften skin as a bath soak. Here is my recipe for herbal vinegar hair rinse:
1 Cup Rosemary Infused Vinegar
1 Cup Water
Combine infused vinegar and water in a squeeze bottle. Shake well.
After shampooing, squeeze vinegar mixture on hair, paying special
attention to the ends. Massage into hair and scalp, and let sit for
a couple minutes. Rinse your hair thoroughly. Towel dry, and
distribute a couple drops of olive oil vinegar through you hair if
What to infuse in vinegar used for beautifying yourself:
For your hair, use: rosemary (brunettes), chamomile (blonds), stinging nettle (for shiny hair), sage (for healthy scalp), and parsley (for dandruff).
For your skin, use: blackberries, carrots, calendula, cloves, fennel, grapes, lemon balm, raspberries, and rosemary.
Vinegar has been used for a wide variety of ailments. Some claim that by drinking 2 teaspoons of vinegar mixed with a glass of water, three times a day, many ailments can be prevented, including, allergies, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. I have never actually tried this, so I cannot support this claim. I have, however, found vinegar to be very effective for sunburn, cuts, and other minor skin irritations. It is also used for ear aches, acne, warts, calluses, and yeast infections.
But, I'm no doctor, so use your common sense on this one!
Here is a Sunburn Relieving recipe:
1/2 Cup Calendula Infused Vinegar
Place vinegar in a tub of lukewarm water and swish it around. Soak
in the tub for 15-20 minutes. Gently pat your skin dry when you are
done soaking. You can also make a spray of one part calendula
infused vinegar and two parts water. Place it in a spray bottle and
lightly mist sunburned areas.
Things to infuse for use in home remedies: calendula (for minor cuts, scrapes, and burns), dandelion root (to eliminate toxins), peppermint (indigestion), willow bark (headaches)
The culinary uses for infused vinegars are endless. Fruit infused vinegars will give your salad dressing an interesting twist. Herbal vinegars make excellent additions to marinades. Also try using infused vinegars in BBQ sauce, pasta salads, pickles...the list goes on and on.
This is an easy recipe for Raspberry Vinaigrette:
1/4 Cup Raspberry Infused Vinegar
1/4 Cup Oregano Infused Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar, screw lid on tightly, and shake.
Shake well before each use.
There is an endless list of various herbs and produce that can be infused in vinegar for cooking uses. Use your imagination! Try different fruits, like pears, cherries, and apples. Or, try blends, like garlic and rosemary, or ginger and cloves.
I do love vinegar--that versatile, tart liquid has captured my heart. What do you use vinegar for? I would love to know, so feel free to comment.