The Queen of Beans: Vanilla Vinegar

| April/May 2005

Makes 1 pint

Once you have this on hand you will begin to use it in many dishes and you will wonder why you never had it before. I use organic apple cider, umeboshi plum, rice wine or white wine vinegar, which are naturally made and good-tasting. Do not make this with distilled vinegar (often inferior substitutes made from synthetic ethanol). Use vanilla-flavored vinegar in small amounts in vinaigrettes, dressings, fruit and vegetable salads and sauces. I particularly love what it does to Waldorf salad (see recipe at right ).

• 1 pint good-quality organic vinegar
• 1 whole vanilla bean

1. Cut vanilla bean in half crosswise and lengthwise. Put pieces into a clean, 1 pint bottle (I save used vinegar or soy sauce bottles for this purpose).

2. Using a funnel, pour vinegar into the bottle. Cap and shake for a minute or two. Label and date bottle. Shake twice a day for a week or two. You can use it after a week, but it is best after 3 or 4 weeks.

3. The longer it sits, the better the flavor. As you use the vinegar, top what’s in the bottle off with a little more vinegar.

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