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Herbal Preserves: Making Herb Vinegars, Vodka, and Butters

Photo: Lavender

Are you asking yourself what to do with all of those edible flowers and the herbs you have harvested? Well here are some tips!

How to make an Herbal Sugar

Herbed sugars should be delicately scented and ethereal. Perfect choices for herbs to use include: Lavender, Mint, or Monarda.

Tie three tablespoons of a fresh herb in a square of cheesecloth, and place it in 2 cups of sugar. Leave it for 2 weeks to let the scent permeate. After that point remove the herbs and seal the jar tightly to retain the fragrance.

Use the herbal sugar in teas, icings, or other places where the fragrance and flavour will not be overwhelmed.

How to make an Herbal Butter

You can also substitute cream cheese for the butter in this recipe - great for mornings!

For each ¼ cup of butter (or cream cheese) you will need either 2 tablespoons of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

  • Finely chop fresh herbs.
  • Soften the butter by bringing it to room temperature (about ½ hour)
  • Blend the two together.
  • Refrigerate.

To give your herbal butter a bit more finesse: try using cellowrap to form it into a "log". Place the soft herb butter in the centre of one side of a 12 x 12 inch square of cellophane and roll it up, forming the log as you go. Refrigerate.

Use in place of butter with vegetables, breads, or anywhere else regular butter is used as a finishing touch.

How to make an Herbal Vinegar

Herbal vinegars have a variety of uses - not just salads. They are a great base for marinades for meats, vegetables, and fruits, as well as a beautiful gift. Do not limit yourself to using white vinegar as a base; red or white wine vinegar and rice vinegar are good alternatives - as long as you use a good quality vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid.

Be sure to use only non-reactive materials when making vinegars: glass or enamel pots for heating, glass and plastic containers, wooden spoons, plastic funnels. Do no use: aluminum, copper, or other reactive metals.

Each cup of vinegar used will require ¼ cup of fresh herbs.

  • Warm the vinegar in a non-reactive pot (do not boil).
  • Place the herbs in an air-tight sterile glass jar and pour the warm vinegar over the herbs.
  • Store in a dark cool place for at least one week.
  • At that point, you can taste the blend and see if it has reached the desired strength. If it is not strong enough, reseal the jar and return it to the dark until it reaches the intensity.
  • When the mixture is right, strain the herbs from the vinegar through a cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter. You may need to run it through a few times to get a clear vinegar.
  • Bottle the final product in a sterile glass bottle; you can add a sprig or two of the same herb used for presentation. Seal tightly (if you use cork, be sure to seal it with wax to prevent evaporation through the porous cork).

Many varieties of glass bottles can be picked up in specialty shops that make for a beautiful presentation. Share your handiwork with your friends and family!

How to make an Herbal Vodka

You can create an herbal vodka for either medicinal or savoury purposes, depending on the herbs chosen, and the preparation method.

If you are planning to use it medicinally to make a tincture, be sure to use no more than 80 proof vodka (30-40% alcohol).

Savoury usage

Herbal vodka can be a gentle surprise in a martini or other mixed drinks, adding nuance to a caesar or a bloody mary.

Herbed vodkas are made the same way an herbed vinegar is; use the same ratio of herb to liquid, and the same method of checking the strength of the infusion.

Floral vodkas do not necessarily require straining if you use fewer florets per cup of vodka (2 tablespoons of petals - remove the pollen-bearing parts in case your guests have allergies). They make a beautiful drink when served ice cold - store the finished vodka in the freezer.

Information on this website is for information purposes only.
Please consult a qualified health practitioner before taking any course of action.
Always check for counter-results before deciding on a course of action.

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