Herb Vinegar

Q. I know you do not approve of the use of herbs since I heard you saying on radio that "your old Tennessee Mama didn't put grass and weeds in your food when you were growing up" but I do like to season my cooking with some herbs. I grow some for fresh use and, of course, use some dried. Are there any other techniques for herb use that you might know of?

A. It seems that you have correctly evaluated my feelings about herbs -- it's not my fault, it's my old Mama's fault in Tennessee for not "properly culturing" me! But I still have some suggestions to offer. You mentioned fresh and dried use of herbs but do not forget the possibility of freezing fresh herbs. Probably the easiest way to preserve herb flavors is in vinegar. If you have enough cuttings, stuff a jar full, crushing them with a wooden spoon. Fill the jar with white, cider or wine vinegar that has been heated to the boiling point. This method will give the vinegar a highly concentrated flavor of herbs.

If fewer cuttings are available, use six tablespoons of chopped herbs to a pint of vinegar. Steep in a brightly lit area, but not direct sunlight, for two weeks. Use vinegar on vegetables, salads, meat and anything else you would season with salt and pepper.

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