The trend towards self-reliance often begins in the kitchen. We search for ways to expand our knowledge and save our pocketbooks in the process. This can be accomplished by cooking with something new (like cranberries) when it is on sale or looking for many ways to use a single product. One of the ways you can do both of these is by learning to make fruit infused vinegar from leftovers.
You can make a small batch of fruit infused vinegar with just a few extra pieces of fruit and a cup of vinegar. It is an excellent way to use extra fruit scraps created during cooking. Why not have several flavors on hand in your pantry?
Know Your Vinegar
There are many types of vinegar on the market, and each will produce a unique flavor when infused with fruit. You might start with a small batch of each until you reach the flavor you want.
Distilled white vinegar is clear in color with a sharp acidic taste. It is an excellent choice for delicately flavored herbs and is the best option for cleaning. It is the least expensive of the group.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is milder in taste than distilled white vinegar. The darker color may not be as desirable for light colored fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It blends well with dark berries.
There are several kinds of wine vinegar you can choose. You’ll find that they can be more expensive than distilled or cider vinegar, but they offer a wider range of flavor. Consider vinegar made from red, white, or Champaign vinegar when deciding on the flavor for culinary uses; they will make smooth flavored infused products.
Rice Vinegar is slightly sweet with a mild flavor. It contains proteins that may promote bacterial growth if the vinegar is not handled and stored properly. For added safety, use only commercially produced vinegar and make sure you sterilize the containers and utensils you’ll be using during the infusion process.
Balsamic vinegar is the expensive one of the bunch. Made from unfiltered and unfermented grape juice, the more aged the vinegar, the sweeter and syrupy it becomes. If this is your choice, start in small batches until you reach a flavor you love.
Types of Fruit
Any fruit will work for this process, choose your favorite and experiment. Crush some of the fruit pieces before you add it to the vinegar, you’ll find that the process will go faster if there are small pieces. Make your infused vinegar to save money and have variety. Some of the most popular varieties in the store include:
Cleanliness is important as you create your fruit infused vinegar. Begin by sterilizing your jars. Dip small necked ones in boiling water or run any size through a dishwasher cycle.
You will need non-corrosive plastic or cork lids for the infusion; the metal caps will corrode. If using Mason jars with metal bands, place plastic wrap over the neck before capping.
Thoroughly wash the fruit you will be using.
Infusing Vinegar without Heat
Place your cleaned fruit into a sterilized glass jar and then fill it with the vinegar of your choice. Let the vinegar condition in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks to allow flavor to develop.
After the infusion period, strain the vinegar through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth so that it catches any sediment. Discard the fruit and store the flavor infused vinegar in your sterilized bottle. You can choose not to strain and leave the fruit, but delicate fruit like strawberries are best strained.
Infusing Vinegar with Heat
If you can’t wait for 3 to 4 weeks for fruit infused vinegar, consider heat infusing. Heat the vinegar to 190-195ºF, and then pour it hot over the herbs. Place the fruit and vinegar into a sterilized glass jar and let it condition in a cool dark place for 2-4 weeks to develop additional flavor.
Ultimately, heating the vinegar ahead of time may speed the process for a finished product by 1 to 2 weeks.
Strain the vinegar through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth so that it catches any sediment. Discard the fruit and store the flavor infused vinegar in a sterilized bottle.
Store fruit infused vinegar in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. No refrigeration required. What fantastic fruit creations will you make?