Infused vinegars add dazzle to food. They make great gifts, too. To give your infused vinegars as a gift, be sure to add fresh versions of your flavoring ingredients so their colors will be nice and bright.
1. Wash a glass canning jar and its lid in hot, soapy water. Rinse, and leave the jar in hot water until all ingredients are ready. Clean and prepare infusion ingredients.
2. Heat vinegar in a saucepan to just below 160 degrees. Turn off heat.
3. Remove canning jar from water, drain it and pack in infusion ingredients. Pour in hot vinegar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Place a small piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the top to prevent vinegar from corroding metal, then screw on lid.
4. Store jar at room temperature for up to a month, shaking occasionally. You may open the vinegar to test it periodically. When you like the flavor, strain out the infusion ingredients.
5. You can store the infused vinegar in the same canning jar, but ideally vinegar should be stored in a narrow-neck bottle with a tight seal to prevent oxidation.
6. If you plan to use the vinegar within a couple of months, you may add a fresh sprig of whatever herb you used to the bottle as decoration.
Good Parings For Flavored Vinegars
• 2 stems of fresh tarragon in balsamic or white wine vinegar
• Half an habanero pepper with a handful of fresh cilantro in white wine vinegar
• Zest of 1 lemon plus a handful of fresh basil in white wine vinegar
• 2 sprigs each: parsley, basil, thyme and oregano; 2 garlic cloves; and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes in white wine vinegar
• 4 stemmed and sliced strawberries with 2 sprigs of thyme in champagne vinegar
• Diced shallot in sherry vinegar
• A half-cup of fresh blackberries and a handful of fresh mint in cider vinegar
• Zest of 1 orange plus 3 cloves and 1 inch of a cinnamon stick in cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon each of celery seed and coriander seed in malt vinegar