Time for a brief break from the hot stuff series this week – the year-long can jam continues and this is the week our posts are due.
This month’s mystery ingredient was herbs. We also were served up with a whole basket of `not enough time` so we had to make a small, practical batch of something. I actually enjoy the challenge of constraints like this – some of our best preserves have been the simplest and a 3-day jelly experience doesn`t guarantee culinary success (at least for me).
There isn`t an abundant of fresh local herbs around these parts right now so we had to create a small batch.
I bought 1 bunch each of thyme, rosemary and chives.
We cut them up nice and pretty and placed each in a 1-cup (250 millilitres) mason jar.
We covered the rosemary with cold apple cider vinegar and covered the other two with cold white wine vinegar. We then put them on the shelf (where they currently sit) and they are in the middle of a 30-day infusion process. After 30 days they can be strained (new herbs added if desired; we won`t) and stored like this for four months or, in our case, treated to a hot water bath and shelved for up to a year.
These 3 vinegars will be the basis for summer salad dressings, added to marinades and sandwiches. Quick `pickles` can be made by dipping or soaking cut garden cucumbers in a vinegar bath for 15-30 minutes.
Preserving can be done in small amounts and does not need to be an involved process. It can be as simple as this – a small amount of effort followed by patience will yield amazing results that you can`t buy anywhere. The jars are a little expensive this time of year – about $4 per but it`s tremendously scalable and easy to do.
The ratio of herbs to liquid is about 10% of packed herbs to vinegar. White wine and cider are best for this.
Now for the biggest tip of all with infused vinegar (and infusions in general): a lot of recipes call for you to mix all the ingredients together and infuse them all at the same time. Phooey. We`ll start tasting the bottles around day 25. One my finish 3 or 4 days before another (it`s a matter of preference). By keeping the flavors separate we can choose when to combine (or not to) – if you infused these together, you`d have no option. A bit of chive and wine vinegar may compliment white fish (a la pickled herring) but rosemary will surely overpower.