Hi Anne. Here in the Philippines we leave birds eye chilis along with sliced onions, ginger, garlic and pepper corns in our palm vinegar and they stay firm indefinitely if submerged completely (they start to break down without the vinegar). Not sure about herbs though, not even sure which I would use but I figure I'd do a quick infusion to avoid any unwanted (dis)coloration. And I don't know what you mean by:
Anne Miller wrote:The spices never seemed to have time to "mellow"
Are the flavors too sharp? Did you try altering the proportions? You could add a sweetener to round out the flavors - tiny amount of sugar or honey might work.
Anne Miller wrote:The problem was that the herbs were still "dry". They didn't have time to blend their flavors. While searching yesterday, I found out that the proper term is probably "Infused" vinegar.
Like I said: "infusion". My first instinct when it comes to extracting flavors is to get the most number of cut surfaces on the 'sources' and the best way to accomplish this is to use a blender. Blitz your vinegar with the herbs and spices, taste constantly and add more until you're close to the concentration you want; let stand for a while; then strain out the solids. Or you could steep overnight after blitzing and see if time will extract more flavor from your ingredients. I figure salt will also 'bump up' the flavors you're trying to extract so season while you blend. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
There's probably a better way, but I once stuffed some fresh rosemary into a bottle of vinegar and left it. After a month or two it looked pretty nasty, the rosemary was turning brown and threadbare in there. Smelled okay, but definitely didn't look like a gift item.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
I do strain out the herbs for storage, but chive blossom infused vinegar is lovely, as is nasturtium pod infused vinegar. If you don't want to strain out the herbs, I would use dried. Whole spices never really soften enough that I would want to eat them whole in a salad, some people seem okay with it, but not me.
If you plan to keep the oil and vinegar separate until putting it on your salad I would put the herbs in the oil, not the vinegar. People pack peppers in oil for storage (not sure how long it lasts, wouldn't store it for years that way but a few weeks in the fridge is likely fine).
As far as what type of herbs, if you like Italian dressing then use an Italian herb blend (they sell it already mixed -- McCormicks herb blend contains marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil.). Or if you have a favorite store bought oil and vinegar dressing then look up the list of ingredients and see what spices they put in it. I also wouldn't strain the herbs out just make sure they are in small little pieces like store bought Italian dressing.
Rebecca Norman wrote:There's probably a better way, but I once stuffed some fresh rosemary into a bottle of vinegar and left it. After a month or two it looked pretty nasty, the rosemary was turning brown and threadbare in there. Smelled okay, but definitely didn't look like a gift item.
Rebecca, did you put yours in the refrigerator?
When I originally did this experiment in March, I put fresh rosemary sprigs in a jar and filled the jar with vinegar. It is still infusing in my refrigerator. Still looks good.
I am good about experimenting and never getting around to testing the results. There is always something I am more interested in.
If I had a camera I would take a picture of the jar.
Those pictures I posted were pretty so I just thought I would share.
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