Herb-infused vinegars splash on flavor


By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com



From left are Joan Craig, diabetes educator Kelly Whittington and Juanita Gillespie making herbed vinegar.


Submitted photos

Master Gardener Tasha Greer taught a workshop on making and using herb-infused vinegar.


Submitted photos

Rick Foster and Marilyn Geiger sample herbed vinegars.


Submitted photos

Linda Vaught demonstrates the use of fresh herbs in making your own herb-infused vinegars.


Submitted photos

Juanita Gillespie makes herbed vinegar.


Submitted photos

Ann Davis inspects her herbed vinegar.


Submitted photos

Herb-infused vinegars were the subject of Surry County Extension’s ongoing series, “Diabetes and You” at the Extension office in Dobson on Wednesday, April 26.

During a presentation by Linda Vaught and Tasha Greer, attendees learned about vinegar, with its many uses and benefits to nutrition and health. Greer, of Lowgap’s reLuxe Ranch, has recently completed an e-book on vinegars that will be available soon.

Says Greer, “So when Carmen (Carmen Long, Area Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Education) put out a call for someone to teach this class, I signed up.”

Greer got her start with vinegars from a book written by another Lowgap resident, Thomas Easley, of the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine, also in Lowgap. Easley’s book, “The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine-Making Guide” is available on Amazon.

Greer and Vaught gave attendees some basic facts about vinegars before focusing in on herbal infusions. Vinegar consists of acetic acid and trace minerals. It has been used as digestive aid and flavor enhancer for thousands of years. The astringency of acetic acid is useful to extract complex flavors and micronutrients.

Infusing vinegar with herbs makes a healthy, high-impact, low-calorie flavor enhancer.

Some of the uses for herb-infused vinegars that were discussed are salad dressings or salad dressing substitutes and marinating meats to add flavor and to tenderize the meat. You can use infused vinegars to deglaze your pans and finish sauces. Infused vinegar with 5% acidity can be used for canning. It is also useful to make “fire cider,” an immune-support tonic or can be mixed with water to make a refreshing drink.

How to infuse vinegars

Use a two to one ratio of vinegar to fresh herbs. Crush or cut fresh herbs to release oils. With dried herbs, use a four to one ratio of vinegar to dried herbs. Crumble dried herbs to increase the surface area exposed to the vinegar.

Place herbs in a jar, cover with vinegar and place in a sunny window or a warm spot for one to two weeks. Shake daily. After infusion period, strain out herbs. Use if it’s ready, or if you want a stronger flavor, infuse for a longer period. Store out of direct light after it is finished.

Use any edible herb or combination of herbs in your homemade infused vinegar. Pungent herbs like rosemary, savory, French tarragon, oregano and thyme are great candidates for infusion. Tender herbs like basil and mints may require more herbs or multiple infusions. Garlic and dried spices, such as coriander, mustard seed and juniper berries can be added.

How to use herb-infused vinegar

To showcase herb-infused vinegars, lunch was served at the Extension workshop, consisting of a mixed green salad with a variety of protein items. According to Carmen Long, Area Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Education, protein is so necessary for people to feel full. “Often people say they get hungry after eating salad, so we had tuna, baked chicken with fresh oregano and lemon balm (I used a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice before I sprinkled on the fresh herbs), rinsed and drained canned garbanzo beans and black beans, and hard boiled eggs. We used the herbed vinegars as dressings and had a fresh fruit salad garnished with apple mint for dessert.”

Fire cider

Fire cider is an old-fashioned home remedy that has been around for generations. Roots, such as horseradish, garlic, onions and ginger can be used with herbs containing a lot of oil, such as rosemary, thyme and savory to make fire cider. It’s an all-purpose health tonic, according to Tasha Greer, very useful for when one is feeling under the weather. After steeping the brew for a few weeks, take a couple of tablespoons a few times a day.

Greer calls fire cider by another name, “Four thieves Tonic.” Legend has it that a group of medieval thieves were able to successfully steal the belongings of the sick and the dying during the height of the bubonic plague by drinking copious amounts of this tonic which made them impervious to the plague. Greer recommends a video by Marjory Wildcraft on GrowNetwork.com for more information about four thieves tonic.

A more recent urban legend is that the tonic is a hangover cure. Greer says, “I have not, in fact, tried it for that purpose. But it is good for settling a queasy stomach, for sure.”

Surry County Extension holds regular “Diabetes and You” workshops. The next will be held Wednesday, May 17, at 12 noon at Reeves Community Center, 113 S Renfro St, Mount Airy. The topic will be counting carbohydrates and understanding labels. For further information, go to https://surry.ces.ncsu.edu/

Garden Herb Salad Dressing

Use any herbs to infuse vinegar for this dressing.

1/4 cup freshly chopped herbs; cilantro, dill, parsley and chives

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. raw unfiltered honey

The Basic: Lemon Balm

Use lemon balm to infuse vinegar for this basic dressing.

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 tsp. Italian seasoning, if desired

1/2 cup lemon olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. pure maple syrup

French

Savory or tarragon are the best herbs to infuse for French dressing.

1/3 cup vegan or no-sugar ketchup

2 tsp. paprika

1/2 cup liquid coconut oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Raspberry

Infuse vinegar with mint for raspberry dressing.

1/4 cup naturally sweetened raspberry jam

1/2 cup lemon olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. maple syrup or raw honey

Sesame Ginger

Cilantro is the perfect choice for infusion in sesame ginger dressing.

1-2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger

2 cloves fresh chopped garlic

1 tbsp. sesame seeds

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. Braggs aminos

1 tbsp. maple syrup

Coconut Ranch

Thyme is the way to go to infuse vinegar for coconut ranch dressing.

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs; dill, garlic, parsley, chives

1/4 cup liquid olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. raw unfiltered honey

From left are Joan Craig, diabetes educator Kelly Whittington and Juanita Gillespie making herbed vinegar.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin1.jpgFrom left are Joan Craig, diabetes educator Kelly Whittington and Juanita Gillespie making herbed vinegar. Submitted photos

Master Gardener Tasha Greer taught a workshop on making and using herb-infused vinegar.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin2.jpgMaster Gardener Tasha Greer taught a workshop on making and using herb-infused vinegar. Submitted photos

Rick Foster and Marilyn Geiger sample herbed vinegars.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin3.jpgRick Foster and Marilyn Geiger sample herbed vinegars. Submitted photos

Linda Vaught demonstrates the use of fresh herbs in making your own herb-infused vinegars.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin4.jpgLinda Vaught demonstrates the use of fresh herbs in making your own herb-infused vinegars. Submitted photos

Juanita Gillespie makes herbed vinegar.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin5.jpgJuanita Gillespie makes herbed vinegar. Submitted photos

Ann Davis inspects her herbed vinegar.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_HerbVin6.jpgAnn Davis inspects her herbed vinegar. Submitted photos

By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

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