Friday, July 25, 2014
~ Blueberry - Basil Vinegar ~
I see at the grocery stores all of the time gourmet salad dressings that are 'some sort of fruit vinaigrette'. They are typically more expensive, and since I've had a decent amount of blueberries this year, and I want to simplify and cut back on what I buy and what I put in the recycling bin, I thought I would give this vinegar a try. It can be added to oil, garlic, dijon mustard and basil any time to make a nice salad dressing or glaze for meats.
So here is the process: I followed the recipe from Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving.
I added 4 cups of fresh blueberries with 1 cup of white wine vinegar to a glass container with a fitted lid. This is very important since this will take up to 4 weeks to make! Just crush the berries. The recipe said lightly, I may have crushed them a bit more, but still looking pretty intact.
I picked about 1 cup of fresh basil, and tore the leaves, then crushed them to release the oils in the leaves. I have a few varieties growing, I used a bit of each. It smells really good! Ball recommends using a mortar and pestle to crush the leaves. I don't have one yet, so I used a ceramic bowl and the back of our ice cream scoop. The idea is just to crush the leaves, it doesn't have to be fancy.
Next, I added the crushed basil leaves and the zest of a lemon to the blueberry/vinegar mixture along with 3 more cups of white vinegar.
This is what it will look like once everything is mixed up. It doesn't look great, but it will start to brew! I have it sitting on the back of my kitchen counter with the lid firmly attached and a dark towel covering everything. It needs a cool, dark environment to blend the flavors without spoiling. The back of my countertop is under a corner cabinet and is pretty dark back there, so I figure I'll remember to stir it every two to three days as the recipe recommends. I can't wait to try this. After it's the strength I like, I'll strain and can the vinegar to keep for future use. I really can't wait!
I've wanted to do something like this for years, but have always been hesitant to use 4 cups of precious blueberries which I'll later discard. I have enough already frozen this year, and have decided to focus on freezing for muffins, cakes, and pancakes, instead of jellies. I'm going to try my hand at grape jelly later this summer, and elderberry, my all time favorite, so making this blueberry-basil vinegar seems like an adventurous idea! It will take up to 4 weeks, so this will be an exercise of patience! I'll keep you posted!
Here's the recipe: (It's on page #276 if you already have this book!)
~ Blueberry - Basil Vinegar ~
4 cups blueberries
4 cups white wine vinegar, divided
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
In a large glass bowl, combine blueberries and 1 cup of white wine vinegar. Lightly crush the blueberries with a potato masher. Add the remaining 3 cups of vinegar, crushed basil and lemon zest, and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a dark, cool place, ideally 70 to 75 degrees F. for up to 4 weeks, stirring every 2 to 3 days. Taste weekly until the desired strength is achieved.
After the desired strength is achieved, prepare canner, jars and lids.
Line a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and place over a large stainless steel saucepan. Strain vinegar without squeezing the cheesecloth. Discard cheesecloth and residue. Place saucepan over medium high heat to heat vinegar to 180 degrees F.
Ladle hot vinegar into hot jars, leave 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim and center lids on jars. Screw the bands down until resistance is met, increasing to fingertip tight.
Place jars in canner making sure they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Variation: If you wish to keep fresh whole blueberries in the vinegar, add 1/4 cup fresh blueberries to the mixture before ladling into jars.