Vinegar has been appreciated since ancient times. It is the fermentation of ethanol alcohol that creates vinegar and anything that contains it such as beer, cider, wine, grain alcohol, or champagne can be transformed into a vinegar.
The Babylonians fermented the fruit of the date palm tree over 7,000 years ago to create both wine and vinegar and the first written mention of vinegar was discovered in Chinese texts dating back nearly 3,500 years.
Ancient Romans created infused fruit vinegars for dipping bread and long before it became a health food darling in modern times. Hippocrates prescribed apple cider vinegar for all manner of health ailments. Vinegar was even mentioned in both the Old and New testaments of the Bible as well as in the Quran.
Fall is the perfect time to make infused vinegars from scratch because autumn flavors like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and star anise pair so well with the brightness of vinegar. They are easy to make and are the perfect hostess gift. Infused vinegars are ideal as a finishing for rich braising sauces, chutneys, jams, marinades, creamy white sauces, warm salad vinaigrettes, pickling agents, bread dipping, and even mayonnaise.
1. Select jars or bottles to infuse your vinegars in. Decorative bottles or clear Mason jars are perfect for not only getting the job done but also as a means to display your infused vinegars in an enticing way.
2. Be sure to wash your bottles or jars and their lids thoroughly in soapy water and then rinse them well before using them.
3. Select the spices and vinegars you will be using for infusion. Fall spice suggestions include cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, allspice, dried orange peel, fennel, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and dried chiles. Apple cider vinegar works well with all of these flavors but red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even balsamic are also welcome dancing partners.
4. For added flavor, toast your spices before using them by placing them in a dry, nonstick pan over low heat and toasting them until they are aromatic. Be sure to shake the pan every few seconds once the spices begin to heat up to prevent scorching.
5. Place your toasted or untoasted spices into your jars or bottles.
6. Place your vinegar in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat until warmed through but not boiling.
7. Place a funnel over the lip of your bottle or jar and carefully pour the vinegar into it until it is a half inch from the top.
8. Let your vinegar cool to room temperature before sealing it. Infuse for at least a week in a dark place at room temperature. The longer the infusion, the more flavor the spices will impart. Give your bottles or jars a vigorous shake every few days to encourage the infusion.
9. Once your infused vinegar is ready, pour it through a double layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter to separate the vinegar from the infusion ingredients. Return the vinegar to its jar or bottle and discard the spices. You can also return a few of the spices to the container for decorative purposes.
10. Store the vinegar at room temperature for between four to six months.
Here are some more ideas for using infused vinegars.
Autumn is celebrated in every single bite of this flavorful salad brightened up by a vinaigrette laced with cinnamon and flash of heat from the Dijon mustard. Instead of incorporating the cinnamon into the vinaigrette itself, plan ahead by infusing apple cider and red wine vinegar with cinnamon sticks for a flavorful vinegar that can be incorporated time and time again into vinaigrettes and marinades. Get the recipe.
Carolina barbecue sauce is heavy on the vinegar and consequently, singing with zesty flavor perfect for lacing barbecued meat cooked low and slow on a lazy fall day. Swap out the standard apple cider vinegar called for in this recipe with your own vinegar infused with autumn spices like star anise, nutmeg, cloves, or all three. Get the recipe.
This crowd-pleasing recipe is as fun to eat as it is tasty. Balsamic vinegar does double duty as both a coloring and flavor enhancer. Instead of using plain old balsamic, infuse it beforehand with fall spices such as ginger, fennel, or dried orange peel for even more flavor. Guests will gather quickly around your autumn party table when these kebabs take center stage. Get the recipe.
This beautiful recipe invites southern France into your fall kitchen with a garlic mayonnaise reminiscent of the aioli this region of the world is famous for. Use it as a vegetable dip, slathered on sandwich buns, or as an accompaniment to roasted chicken. Instead of incorporating apple cider vinegar into it, infuse your vinegar with an autumn spice such as ginger or fennel for even more Provençal flavor. Get the recipe.
These carrot pickles are as vibrantly beautiful as they are addicting and satisfying as a crunchy garnish on virtually anything. They’re especially good on sandwiches or atop a stir fry for just the right amount of tangy zip. Infuse your vinegar with the star anise and ginger before adding it to the pickles for even more welcome flavor. Get the recipe.
Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, are as popular for their intense flavor as they are for their health benefits. They are consumed unadulterated, stirred into cocktails or combined with soda water for an afternoon pick-me-up. This shrub recipe celebrates the autumn apple and would be even more delicious if the apple cider vinegar was infused with fall spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise before using. It’s the perfect addition to a bourbon cocktail on a chilly autumn day. Get the recipe.
Related Video: Experts Are Urging People Not to Drink Straight Apple Cider Vinegar
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