DIY Holiday Gift Idea: Infused Vinegars

In the latest edition of one of my favorite cooking magazine’s Eating Well, I came across a great Christmas gift idea. Since I make my own salad dressings all the time, I know the simple joy of having a tasty flavored vinegar to work with as your base. Eager to start exploring the art of canning and itching for a new DIY project, I thought making infused vinegars as gifts this holiday season just might fit the bill.

The finished product!

The finished product!

As a nutrition enthusiast, I was also pleased to learn that out of the 6 herbs used in these two infused vinegar variations 4 made the Huffington Post’s Top 25 Healthy Herbs list. In the Oregano, Rosemary & Marjoram Infused Vinegar, oregano has both antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has also been found to be effective against yeast-based infections. Rosemary is rich in several antioxidants, making it a potent combatant of inflammation. In the Fennel, Orange & Star Anise Infused Vinegar, star anise and fennel provide a sweet taste similar to that of black licorice when used in foods. Anise seeds have been proven to soothe tummy aches and help with symptoms of the common cold.  For the ladies out there, estrogen-like properties found in anise may increase milk flow in breastfeeding mothers, treat menstrual symptoms and boost libido. Feeling bloated? Fennel is your GI track’s buddy, helping your body deal with uncomfortable digestive issues (WebMD).

THE RECIPES:

Oregano, Rosemary & Marjoram Infused Vinegar:

  • 6 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 9 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 9 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 9 sprigs fresh marjoram
  • Additional fresh herbs for decoration (optional)

Fennel, Orange & Star Anise Infused Vinegar:

  • 6 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 9 fronds from 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 strips zest from 1 medium orange (see Tips)
  • 9 whole star anise (see Tips)
  • Additional fresh herbs for decoration (optional)

What you’ll need:

  • 6 pint-size (2-cup) glass canning jars (3 per recipe)
  • tongs
  • cheesecloth
  • decorative vinegar cruts (2 16-oz or 4 8-oz)

How to make them:

  1. Wash 6 pint-size (2-cup) heatproof glass-canning jars and their lids with hot soapy water. Rinse well with hot water. Fill a large, deep pot about half full with water. Place the jars upright into the pot; add enough additional water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil; boil jars for 10 minutes. Add the lids to the pot, and then remove the pot from the heat. Let the jars and lids stay in the hot water as you prepare the flavoring and vinegar. (Keeping the jars warm minimizes breakage when filling with hot liquid.)
  2. Thoroughly rinse herbs with water. Remove the jars from the water bath with a jar lifter or tongs. Divide the herbs among the jars. Heat vinegar in a large saucepan to a bare simmer (at least 190°F). Carefully divide the vinegar among the prepared jars, leaving at least 1/4-inch of space between the top of the jar and the vinegar. Remove lids from the water bath, dry with a clean towel and screw tightly onto the jars.
  3. Store the jars in a cool, dark place, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain vinegar through cheesecloth into another container. Repeat as needed until all the sediment is removed and the vinegar is clear. Discard all solids and pour the strained vinegar back into rinsed jars or divide among sterilized decorative bottles. Decorate with a few well-rinsed fresh herbs, if desired.

With Christmas just one month away, time to get cracking! These babies need 3-4 weeks to really let the flavors seep in, so why not make this Sunday Funday a little better with a little DIY action and save a little extra $$$ for Cyber Monday.