Herbal Preserves: Making Herb Vinegars, Vodka, and Butters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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