Friday, July 10, 2015


I got the idea for infusions from my friend and fellow blogger, Vicki at Playin' Outside when she presented about her vinegar infusions at a garden tour a few years ago.  Vicki said that she uses 'seasoned rice vinegar' which has some sugar in it to cut the acidity of vinegar, but if you're going to use straight vinegar, you should use rice or white wine vinegar (avoid the regular white distilled or cider vinegars because they're just too astringent).  She also said that she doesn't have recipes (which is always the first thing people ask for); her recommendation was to walk around your garden and pluck some herbs, hold them together and sniff - if they smell good together, you're good to go, if they don't, figure out which one is the offending one and toss it out.  Of course, you generally can go off of known good combos - Italian herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, sage), Mexican herbs (oregano, peppers, garlic), French herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay leaf) - generally if you use the herbs together in a recipe, they're probably going to go well together for an infusion, so go find your favorite recipe and add the same ratio of herbs to vinegar and have a go at an infusion.

But why stop at vinegar?  Why stop at herbs?

But first, let's talk about the set up for infusions.  What you'll need:
  • large glass jar with lid (preferably plastic, but you can use a mason jar, you'll just have to protect the metal with a sheet of plastic wrap if you're using vinegar)
  • a plastic lid from a yogurt container cut to slightly smaller than the inside diameter of the jar, with some slits cut in it.
  • vinegar, oil, vodka, bourbon, or tequila - enough to cover your herbs and then some.
  • your herbs, fruit, vegetables, garlic, peppers, etc.  (when using fruit/vegetables, use the ripe ones - it should smell like what you want - if using citrus fruit, you only need the peel, pith removed.)

And now for the photos:

Put your infusers in the jar (in this case, a peeled head of garlic and 4 Thai peppers)
prepare your "hold everything below the surface" yogurt lid

Select your poison (in this case vinegar)

A top view of the infusers (garlic and dried thai peppers)

place the yogurt lid on top of the infusers

Add the liquid.  Let sit for a few weeks before using.  I tend to just let the items sit in the jar until I finally decide that I want to start a new infusion.

I tend to use vinegar infusions as a finisher for sautéed summer squash, roasted Brussels sprouts, and making homemade salad dressing (which consists of herbed vinegar and olive oil).  The one above also gets used on breakfast potatoes when they need a little extra kick.

When using other liquids, choose good quality ones - in the case of liquors, choose ones that you would actually drink - so don't cheap out on the vodka and get the one that burns like paint thinner just to save a few bucks.

I've just recently expanded into trying basil in olive oil:

Lemon peel in Deep Eddy vodka (taken a few days after I started):

And peaches in Deep Eddy vodka (taken a few days after I started):

In the case of vodka infusions, I've had coworkers who have done fennel, corn (surprisingly good), cucumber, raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry.  In all cases, it works best if, after a few days, you taste test the infusion to see if it's got the flavor you were aiming for.  In any case, you probably don't want to leave the items in the vodka indefinitely.  Besides, how are you supposed to eat those delicious vodka-soaked fruit on ice cream if you leave them IN the vodka?

1 comment:

Linda Lehmusvirta said...

So fun! I have a bunch of Vicky's recipes and ideas. Just need to do IT!