Making Herb Vinegars, Oils and Butters

      This week I am using excess herbs and spices; today I'm making vinegars, oils and butters. They are great for gifts as well as for everyday home use.
     I try to cut the herbs in the morning after the dew has dried but before it gets too hot. The essential oils will release from the herbs at about 85°.

Any vinegar with 5% acidity will work
Herbs & Spices: Experiment with flavor combination or try some of these tested and true combos:
·      White Wine Vinegar with Chive, Dill, Savory, Sage, Basil, Lavender sprigs or flowers, Fennel fonds, Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thyme
·      Red Wine Vinegar with Basil, Garlic, Oregano, Thyme
·      White Vinegar with Basil, Rosemary, Tarragon, Dill, Garlic, Black Peppercorns
·      Cider Vinegar with Orange Peel Spirals, Raspberries, Lavender Blossoms. 
·      Rice Vinegar with Parsley, Dill, Savory, Sage, Rosemary, Purple Basil, Tarragon, Thyme, Garlic

1.  Put washed & dried herbs in sterilized jars. Remember, you can always dilute the vinegar if the herb flavor is too strong but if you cannot strengthen the herb flavor if it is too weak.
2.  Add room temperature vinegar to cover the herbs. Any vinegart with 5% acidity will work. White vinegars can be used with any herb; red vinegars are best used with strong flavored herbs.
3.  Put a non-metallic lid on jar and store in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks and then checke for flavor and aroma. When desired flavor has been achieved, strain out the herbs.
4.  Replace with a few fresh herbs, if desired and label vinegar.
5.  Use herb vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, or to deglaze pans.

Oils: Olive or vegetable
Choice of herbs such as: garlic cloves, bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, oregano sprigs, marjoram sprigs, basil leaves, dill weed, parsley leaves, thyme sprigs

1.  Wash herbs & dry; bruise slightly to release additional flavor.
2.  Place herbs in a bottle; add oil and then cork or screw on lid. 
3.  Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. (It is considered unsafe to store unprocessed oils w/ herb additions at room temperatuere.)
4.  Use is dressings, marinades, for sauteeing or drizzle over pasta dishes or veggies as a finishing oil 

Herb, Spice & Flavored Butters
Herb or “Compound Butters”— butter seasoned with herbs, spices, and other flavors. Use savory herb butters to top burgers, steaks poultry, fish, pasta and vegetables (offer several flavors to slather on steaming hot corn on the cob. Or spice up pankcakes, waffles, biscuits and scones with citrus or cinnamon butters.

Procedure: After mixing softened butters with herbs, spices or other flavorings, roll in parchment or waxed paper to form a log.
Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months. Or, spread soft butter in a small dish and serve as soft spread.

Eeperiment with flavor combos of try these (adjust amounts of flavoring to your own preference):
·   Spicy & Sweet Butters -- For the best flavor, use sweet (not salted) butter
·   Orange-Honey Butter -- Blend 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter with 1/2 cup honey and 2 tablespoons orange zest.
·   Vanilla Butter --  Blend 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
·   Jam Butter -- Blend 8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter with about 1/2 cup fruit jam or preserves.

Savory Herb Butters – use salted or unsalted butter
·   Basic Herbed Butter -- Blend 1 stick butter with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage, chives or tarragon and 1 small clove garlic (optional)
·   Italian Herb Butter -- Blend 1 stick butter with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
·   Mexican Herb Butter -- Blend with 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

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