more flavored vinegar questions

KSprairieJuly 13, 2014

I looked up this Extension pub from Colorado State University on Flavored Vinegars and Oils by P. Kendall and J. Rausch ( after seeing it referenced in a post from 2008. It has quick facts on proper preparation of Vinegars and Oils. My question is, the article states that vinegars are best stored in the refrigerator, but the BBB does not say to do this after canning flavored vinegars. Is there an advantage to refrigeration? I would rather not have to refrigerate them.
I have been picking chokecherries the last few days and would like to try make Chokecherry Vinegar with some of them. Is it OK to sub my chokecherries for other fruits listed in the vinegar recipes from the pub above (Raspberry or Strawberry) or from the vinegar recipes in the BBB? I am not sure which vinegar would have the best flavor with chokecherries, any thoughts? The other recipes use Red wine, white wine, cider, even plain old white vinegar.
And one last question; in the Fresh Dill Vinegar recipe in the CSU publication, it says to use 8 Sprigs of Dill. By sprigs, they mean the green swollen seed heads, not fronds?
Thanks for all of your help!

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OK - I see where you might be confused (I'll take your questions one at a time):

"...the article states that vinegars are best stored in the refrigerator, but the BBB does not say to do this after canning flavored vinegars."

Colorado State (and I'll link to the excellent Oregon State publication below - scroll down to the Pickling section) doesn't have you "can" or BWB the vinegars. They are put in sterilized bottles or jars, capped and put on the shelf. Refrigeration will extend the flavor and quality an additional 6 to 8 months. I have some dill and tarragon vinegars from last summer in a cool, dark cupboard and they are fine. Take into consideration the conditions of your storage area. I have never BWB'd my vinegars, so I can't comment as to the difference in taste after BWBing it.

"Is it OK to sub my chokecherries..." "I am not sure which vinegar would have the best flavor with chokecherries..."

Yes, you can substitute chokecherries. I've read that they can be sour and bitter depending on ripeness and variety (never had any personally), so I would choose a sweeter vinegar like white wine maybe, and add a pinch of sugar to offset the sourness. Definitely not distilled white - too harsh by itself. Mash a few berries and mix into some different vinegars (heat a small amount of vinegar a bit, then cool before tasting - gives you a better idea of the taste of the flavor combinations).

" says to use 8 Sprigs of Dill..."

Dill fronds have a lot more "potent" dill flavor than the seed heads (I think so anyway). I usually start with maybe 4 good sized fronds and a couple of seed heads. I use the OSU method of:

Put the desired amount of herbs and or vegetables into a sterilized glass jar and then fill the jar with the vinegar of your choice. Some people prefer to heat the vinegar to 190-195úF, and then pour the hot vinegar over the herbs. Others like the flavor better when cold vinegar is added. Either way, pour the vinegar over the herbs or vegetables and cover jar with a non-corrodible lid. Let vinegar condition in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks to develop flavor.

Taste it - if it's not quite flavorful enough, add some more dill and wait another week or so. If it's too strong, dilute it with more of the base vinegar. Just keep tweaking until the flavor level is where you want it.

Hope that helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: OSU Food Preservation Publications

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:40PM
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Thank you so much for your thorough answers! It makes sense to me now. :)
I appreciate your tips on making the dill vinegar too. I am going to start some tonight. The OSU page is great, thank you for including the link!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:31AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I marinate my vinegar with dry chili peppers, Rosemary, Oregano, sage. I use cheap distilled vinegar for that purpose.

Vinegar (5% acidity) has a pH of 2.40. A small amount of it needed to acidify in canning. Now, straight vinegar would never need to be canned or refrigerated because of high acidity. Adding a few sprigs of fresh herbs is not going to dilute it significantly. I have pickled chili peppers sitting on the shelf that are over 4 years old, never sealed or refrigerated. I use them as spicy vinegar and refill them when needed.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:58AM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

While white distilled vin can be used, for most herbal and flavored vins, it is best to use a less harsh so that more flavor comes through. I use a variety of other-white wine for most, but red wine with rosemary & garlic; champagne vin with lemon basil (very delicate flavor); and occasionally rice vin, either plain or seasoned. Love garlic chive blossoms in seasoned rice vin for Asian cooking. When you're just starting, just make a little, so storage isn't much of an issue until you find out what you like, and more importantly what you will use.

As far as the storage issues, like Malna I store my herbal vins in a cool basement. The herbs do not alter the vin much, and I have used them for 1-2 years. Heat and especially light can degrade the final color of a flavored vin, especially the pinks and reds you can get from chive blossoms or opal basil. Some will tell you to leave a sprig of herb in, but I find that it starts looking terrible too quickly, adds bitterness, and if the herb extends above the vin level, it can mold. Depending on the herb, I infuse for a lesser time -sometimes only a week- so try you vins regularly until you find where your taste preference is.

The fruit ones, I do store in the fridge. My assumption on them, though I can not remember whether I read somewhere or just assumed, is that because you're adding much more juice of unknown ph to the vin, you don't know the final and therefore should refrigerate for quality/safety.

If you do oils--definitely fridge and small quantities. They go rancid very fast when homemade.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:40AM
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Good information, thanks everyone. I had no idea people were so creative with vinegars! The past couple of years I have had bumper crops of super hot peppers, several different varieties. So hot I couldn't find anyone who would take them and we just couldn't eat them. I should have made chili pepper vinegar. I'm still not sure if we would use it, or what I would use it for! Does the heat mellow over time?
Since I don't know what I'll like, or what I will end up using, I will try small batches of different kinds and see how it goes. Thanks for the inspirations everyone.

I did come across an vinegar recipe specifically for chokecherries. That's what I have in abundance right now. It is published by Yellowstone County, Montana State University, (
The recipe states to mash chokecherries (not breaking pits) and cover with a weak vinegar solution that is half white wine vinegar and half water. Let stand 2 days, stir each day. On third day drain and add 1 cup sugar for each cup of juice. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and let it settle well. Bottle or put in jars. A couple of tablespoons mixed in a glass a water makes a refreshing drink.
I couldnâÂÂt find a date on this pub and none of the other recipes IâÂÂve read use a diluted vinegar solution. Any thoughts on whether or not the 1:1 solution would be OK to use or should I stick with undiluted wwv?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Just an FYI - the MSU PDF was created in August 2010.

Somehow, I just can't wrap my taste buds around a diluted vinegar, loaded with sugar, boiled juice mixed into a glass of water.

But I admit my taste buds are strange, so ignore that comment :-)

I would *guess* that it wouldn't work for the usual marinade/salad dressing uses we normally think of when we think "vinegar". But if you have a lot of chokecherries, why not give it a try and report back. At worst, you'll be out a couple of bucks for some white wine vinegar and a cup or two of sugar. My compost pile loves sugar :-)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I agree, that recipe for chokecherry vinegar sounds strange. But...strange enough that I am going to try it. :) I'll let you know how it turns out.

I have the chokecherries hanging in the jelly bag now in preparation for a 'normal' vinegar, jelly and more syrup. Chokecherry is often paired with venison, so I am thinking I will do a bottle or two of vinegar to use as marinade as see how we like that. I have seen venison recipes that say to serve with chokecherry sauce, but no recipe for how to make the sauce unless it is from fresh berries. If I lightly sweetened the juice (not as much as I did for syrup) and can it, maybe I can use that as a base for chokecherry sauce.

Has anybody made anything from the chokecherry pulp? That same Yellowstone County pub has a recipe for chokecherry butter. I'm leaning towards trying that since I have a lot of pulp from the process. I would love to have some crabapples to add to the mix!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:54PM
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Oooh, you're talking my kind of food - venison!

You might enjoy Hank Shaw's website (linked below). He has a recipe for wild berry sauce for game (and a lot of other recipes that I really like).

I've made this with red currants and mulberries. Tart fruit is the star!

By the way, when I get too many mulberries to process, I just push them through the food mill, get the juice and pulp, and freeze it in muffin tins. About 1/2 cup each so I can just pop some "hockey pucks" out in the middle of winter and whip up a sauce - works for other recipes, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Berry Sauce for Game

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:21PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

Ditto--the dilution of the vinegar in your recipe doesn't really make sense to me. In my culinary thoughts, it reduces the possible uses, since you wouldn't use a dilution in something like a vinaigrette.

The recipe for the drink is an old fashioned drink called a shrub. The dilution may be for a syrup used only for that use. I've tried them, but they're not my favorite--my sweet tooth wants much more sugar! If your palate likes a bit more tart, try the sweetened fruit vinegar in a glass of club soda or ginger ale. You can always easily add more sugar at the same time you add the vinegar, and therefore the vinegar wouldn't have to be as sweet.

btw--I forgot to mention it before, but trying the chokecherries in apple cider vinegar (preferably the spendier less processed stuff) might turn out really well!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Venison is awesome! The wild berry game sauce of Shaw's looks great. I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the freezing tip too. I've been debating whether or not save some juice and freeze it in hope of getting some crabapples a little later this summer. I hadn't considered freezing mulberry juice or puree before. Great idea. I haven't blended mulberry and chokecherry juices either, but wanted to try that this summer too. There are still several wild mulberries (both red and white) around that have fruits ready for harvesting. I have plans to gather some more this week before they are gone.

Balloonflower - A shrub, huh? I have never heard that term, now I've learned something new today! :) I have seen some similar recipes in really old cookbooks and often wondered if they were even tolerable, much less good! my curiosity is getting the better of me, so as soon as I get more WWV, I am going to give it a try.

I will try the ACV and WWV in the vinegar for marinade and see which we like better. Now we need to start praying we will have a successful deer harvest this fall!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:41AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

While white distilled vin can be used, for most herbal and flavored vins, it is best to use a less harsh so that more flavor comes through. I use a variety of other-white wine for most, ...


Are we talking about flavoring vinegar Or wine ? Or do you mean wine vinegar ?

Vinegar is vinegar ( 4 to 5% acetic acid + water) What does make a vinegar harsh other than acetic acid ?

When I flavor my vinegar i am interested in the taste and the aroma imparted from the herbs not from the wine. Also distilled vinegar has a clear appearance which displays the herbs. A white wine vinegar can also be used but it is way too expensive, to me.
I guess we all have different preferences. That is fine.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:17AM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

To clarify, I am speaking of wine vinegars, not wine. Yes, they are more expensive, and it may be a flavor preference, but I find them worth the price difference. I mostly use white distilled for cleaning.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:22PM
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My whole life it has been common to keep a bottle of hot pepper vinegar around. The favorite thing to use it on is "greens." Collards, kale, hanover, mustard, heck even cabbage greens, cooked nicely, on my plate and splashed with a shot of hot pepper vinegar. Hot pepper vinegar is also a key ingredient when preparing Carolina style barbeque pork.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:07PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

Good use for a flavored vin! I do the same with a rosemary garlic red wine vinegar & green beans--toss in a pan until tender crisp then a splash of vin to finish.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:27PM
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