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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tarragon Wine Vinegar


Herbal vinegars allow you to enjoy warm-weather herbs all winter long. Use them as a condiment or add them to marinades, dressings, sauces, soups, and stews.

There are two methods for making herbal vinegars. The long method calls for adding dried herbs to vinegar and setting the mixture aside in a warm, dark place for 2 to 4 weeks and shaking it occasionally, until the desired strength and flavor have fully developed.

The short method involves adding fresh or dried herbs to vinegar and using heat to accelerate the process, reduce the moisture content, and concentrate the flavor.

I had fresh herbs so I used the short method and steeped fresh tarragon and red shallot in white wine vinegar.

Fresh tarragon

I love this combination because I can use it as a base for BĂ©arnaise sauce, my favorite home-made steak sauce. (It's also great with fish.)

In this recipe, you can substitute other herbs and aromatics if you like to create your own herbal vinegar. Instead of tarragon, try rosemary, oregano, or thyme. Use chives or red onion instead of shallot. Or red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar. Add garlic if you like. Or chili pepper. You get the idea.

1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or substitute more vinegar
1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, packed
1 cup finely chopped red shallot
5 peppercorns, smashed

Add all of the ingredients to a medium sauce pan. Warm it over medium heat and once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer very slowly until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature or for several hours.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean and DRY glass bottle. Discard the solids. Label the bottle and store it in the fridge for several months.

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