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Years ago when I was still teaching music, one of my students gave me a bottle of flavored vinegar. It contained hot peppers and possibly some herbs, I don't remember. But I do remember I was hooked, and began to experiment with making my own. I bought this book from the huge collection of Storey Bulletins. That is the main page. The bulletins are listed alphabetically. This one was printed in 1991, and is still available. I think, probably, they all are.

I know I must have read it when I bought it, but, in re-reading it, I have not followed it. I'll tell you how I make my own vinegars, then relate some information from the book. They supply a great number of tips, including an explanation of different types of vinegars, recipes for vinegars, and recipes to use vinegars. They all sound good, but more expensive than I'm willing to go. I used to use white vinegar, but now I stick with cider, which is expensive enough, and I stick with herbs and vegetables I grow myself, with rare exceptions. I vary each bottle with a different combination of ingredients.

I first pour boiling water into my clean bottles, but I also bring my vinegar to a boil. I carefully wash my herbs, garlic, hot peppers, or whatever I am using, then pat them dry with a clean paper towel. I put them into the bottles and top them with boiling vinegar. I leave them like that, and do not replace the ingredients with fresh, as the book suggests. Flavored vinegars are extremely safe to make and use. Botulism, which is deadly, cannot grow in an acid environment, which is why I never do any preserving without acid. Pectin is ascorbic acid from apples, so jams and jellies are mostly safe, too, although they sometimes develop molds on top. If a vinegar ever develops mold, definitely throw it out! That is not the same as "mother,"—the film that naturally forms in the bottom of vinegar bottles which is harmless, though rather gross. I collect fancy bottles, GLASS ONLY, which are not as commonplace as they once were. Some have corks and some caps, but I always place a plastic baggie over the opening before closing it. Sometimes metal caps rust, or corks do develop mold, especially in areas where it is always wet. But that's just a "me" thing, for added cleanliness.

The book begins with some basics on making flavored vinegars. Always sterilize your bottles, as I mentioned above. You can either just add the seasonings to the bottle, which requires a period of time to steep, or you can crush your ingredients and pour boiling vinegar over, and it will be ready to use almost immediately, but you have to strain it first. My way is an in-between of these two, and I do allow mine to steep for at least a month, but usually longer, as I always have some left from the previous year. As I write this in November, 2022, I am finishing up my last bottle from 2021, and most of my new bottles have been done for several months. I am still waiting for my cayenne peppers in the greenhouse so I can do some hot pepper-garlic.

The book next describes eight different types of vinegars, and recommends red wine, white wine, champagne, and Japanese or Chinese rice for the purpose of flavoring, but those are too hoity-toity for me. Distilled white is the cheapest, but I find that one best for cleaning the sediment out of my kettle and coffee maker, so I stick with cider. They next give instructions for making your own base vinegar out of wine or cider. Well, I don't drink alcohol, and to really make your own vinegar, you must begin with apples, which is beyond the scope of this book.

Next are some fruity ideas for flavored vinegars to make, which I have never experimented with, such as raspberry, blueberry, and peach or apricot, which sound wonderful. Then there are some ideas on using herbs, and other ingredients I had not thought of, such as lemon peel or peppercorns. Or ginger, which is mixed with peppercorns and garlic, which also sounds good, and I may try that, with or without the peppercorns.

From page 16 to the end (page 32), are recipes to use various vinegars, including Blueberry Vinegar Candy on the last page. Hmm. Not sure about that one. Anyways, as always, these Storey Bulletins provide lots of good basic tips and information, condensed in a small booklet. I have quite a collection of them, from back when they were less than a dollar each. Now they are $3.95, which is a bit pricey, especially since there is so much information free online. Their library keeps growing, and they are now up to 173 Bulletins, so I suggest checking them out. You may access my other Storey Bulletin reviews in the Book Reviews link above, under "Non-Fiction." They are toward the bottom of the page under their own category.

Here are some of my flavored vinegars, first, from 2021, then the ones I made this year. Those smaller bottles previously held Giant Eagle "Market District" lemonades and limeades, which they frequently have on sale at a price I am willing to pay, and they are very good. I also keep a number of those bottles in my refrigerator filled with water.

My Flavored Vinegars from 2022

My Flavored Vinegars from 2021


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