How would you describe vinegar infusions? They seem simple enough, but they can be tricky to master. If you want to try them out, you’ll need to get some basic equipment.
Vinegar infusions are a great way to add flavor to food without using salt or sugar. The technique involves steeping vinegar in hot water until it becomes syrupy. This method has been around for centuries, but it was only recently that scientists discovered why it works.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which makes it acidic. When heated, the acid converts into acetic acid vapor, which condenses back into liquid form. In other words, vinegar infusions are simply a matter of heating vinegar until it turns into syrup.
This article will cover how to infuse vinegar, so you can make vinegar infusions with a variety of flavors.
Best Vinegar for Infused Vinegar
Light flavored vinegar is the best type to use when making infused vinegar. White vinegar has a strong flavor, so it’s not a good choice.
It’s important to taste different types of vinegar. Doing so ensures you end up with the right flavor for your personal tastes and infusion.
These are my favorite vinegar choices for infusion:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – One of the most versatile vinegars. Use this for almost everything!
- Balsamic Vinegar – This darker vinegar could potentially overpower lighter flavors, but they’re great for strong, sweet flavors.
- Champagne Vinegar – It’s light and fruity, perfect for fruit infusions. This is one of the more expensive vinegars though.
- White Wine Vinegar – An inexpensive vinegar with a light flavor. Great for salad dressings.
- White Balsamic Vinegar – A combination of white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Has a sweetness that’s great to use with fruits and salads.
Choosing a vinegar for your infusion depends on what you’re trying to achieve. I recommend starting with something like white wine vinegar because it’s cheap and easy to find. Once you’ve mastered it, move onto stronger vinegars.
How To Make Infused Vinegar
Infusing vinegar is not a difficult process, but will take time and patience. You will need to wait for the flavors from the various ingredients to infuse with the vinegar.
The basic ratio of ingredients to vinegar is a 1:2 ratio. For 1 part of a flavor ingredient, you add 2 parts vinegar.
Vinegar Infusion Ingredients
- 1 Glass Jar with lid
- Choice of Vinegar
- Infusing Materials – Fresh fruits, herbs, spices, etc.
Vinegar Infusion Directions
- Wash your infusing materials to make sure they’re clean.
- Put all the ingredients in a glass jar.
- Pour in twice the amount of vinegar compared to infusing materials. 1 part infusing material to 2 parts vinegar.
- Cover the jar with the lid and place the jar in an area that does not have direct sunlight.
- Let the vinegar and ingredients steep for two to four weeks. The longer you store it, the more flavor you’ll have.
- Lightly shake the jar every couple days, to stir the mixture.
- When the flavor you want is reached, strain the vinegar through a cheesecloth to remove all infusing matter.
You don’t need to heat the vinegar either as that will remove the acidity of the vinegar. There are other recipes that call for boiling the vinegar before straining.
If you do choose to boil the vinegar, be careful not to overheat it or else you may lose some of the flavor.
Shelf Life of Infused Vinegar
Once you’ve strained out the infusing materials, you can keep the infused vinegar in the refrigerator for about 6 months. If the jar is airtight, it may last a little longer even.
It’s important not to have any leftover materials in the vinegar when storing it. Plant matter will decompose and the vinegar won’t last as long.
Leftover matter will also change the flavor of the vinegar, because infusion will continue. Be especially careful with any spicy ingredients like chili peppers, as your vinegar will get spicier.
Flavoring Your Infused Vinegar
You can use whatever plants and ingredients you want to infuse with your vinegars. Some common and popular ingredients include:
- Chile peppers
- Orange and citrus peel
How to Use Infused Vinegar
One of my favorite uses is to drizzle flavored vinegar on salad greens, steamed vegetables, and roasted vegetables.
Tossing infused vinegar with pasta is another way to enjoy it. It’s great on penne pasta or spaghetti.
I love adding a splash of flavored vinegar to my homemade vinaigrette dressing. This helps balance the acidic taste of the vinegar.
You can also marinade meat, fish, and poultry using flavored vinegar. I often use this method to tenderize tough cuts of beef.
Another fun application is making a pickle relish. Simply combine equal amounts of flavored vinegar and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit overnight then refrigerate until ready to serve.
The possibilities are endless! Anytime you want to add flavor, try your flavored vinegar.
Tips for Infusing Vinegar
There are many ways to infuse vinegar. You can use fresh herbs, spices, dried herbs, and/or dried spices. Here are some of the top tips when making your won vinegar infusions:
- Make sure you have enough room in your kitchen to work to keep your infusion materials separated and clean. You don’t want to attract any dirt or debris onto your ingredients before adding to the jar.
- Use a non-reactive container such as glass.
- Don’t let your vinegar come into contact with metal containers. Metal reacts with vinegar and will cause the vinegar to spoil faster.
- Herbs will infuse quickly, but spices take much longer. So if you’re planning on having multiple infusions going at once, make sure you plan accordingly.
- Try to use the same amount of vinegar each time you make your infusion. That way you’ll have a sense of how strong your infusions are after periods of time.
Infused Vinegar Final Thoughts
There are so many different ways to infuse vinegar that it would be impossible to list them here. But I hope these simple steps help you find something new to do with your vinegar.
For other great cooking tips and recipes, check out these articles:
Infused Vinegar FAQs
How do you infuse vinegar?
Infusing vinegar is a simple process where you combine various ingredients with vinegar. You can add fresh herbs, citrus peels, spices, etc. There are no hard and fast rules about what goes well together. In fact, there are infinite combinations. The simplest way of infusing vinegar is to add 1 part herbs to 2 parts vinegar to a large glass jar. Then leave it in a cool, dark place for 2 to 4 weeks depending on your preferred flavor strength. The longer you leave the ingredients in, the stronger the flavor.
How long does infused vinegar last?
Infused vinegar can last for up to 6 months in the fridge. If you’d like to extend its shelf life even further, you can freeze it. Just pour the contents of the jar into ice cube trays and pop out the cubes. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to resealable freezer bags. They’ll last almost indefinitely in the freezer. If you leave it the vinegar out at room temperature, in a sealed glass jar, it should last up to 3 months.
Can you infuse white vinegar?
No, it’s not a good idea to infuse white vinegar because of its already strong flavor. White vinegar is made using distilled water which is then added to regular vinegar. This results in a very concentrated vinegar. It also makes it difficult for any herbs and other ingredients to add flavor to the white vinegar.
What do you use infused vinegar for?
You can use infused vinegar to make salad dressings, marinades, sauces, dips, pickles, relishes, soups, stews, and more. You can also use it to season meat dishes, fish dishes, vegetables, and desserts.
How do you make vinegar taste better?
You can make vinegar taste better by adding different ingredients and infusing the vinegar for 2-4 weeks. When making flavored vinegars, always remember that the less acidic the vinegar, the more flavors you can add. A basic rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of sugar
How to infuse vinegar with fruit?
Infuse vinegar with fruit by putting fruit into a glass jar. After you finish adding fruit, add in the vinegar. For every 1 part of fruit, add 2 parts of vinegar. Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks or longer if you want an even sweeter vinegar.