If you're having a healthy, grilled salmon steak and tossed green salad for lunch or dinner, don't add saturated fats, sugar and excess sodium by using store-bought salad dressing. Instead, make your own fat-free dressing and seasoning by infusing balsamic vinegar with herbs and fruit. Vinegars can even help balance your blood glucose levels, according to Medscape General Medicine. Herb-and-fruit infused vinegars are easy and economical to make and add fresh, pungent flavor to your meals. You can also pour the vinegar infusion into bottles to make unique gifts.
Place blackberries, strawberries or blueberries into a glass jar. If you are using strawberries cut them in half. Add fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary or oregano. Heat white balsamic vinegar in a pot until it is steaming; do not bring it to a boil. Pour the hot vinegar over the berries and herbs and allow it to cool before sealing the jar tightly with the lid. Shake gently and let it steep for about one week in a cool place.
Combine fresh basil leaves, tarragon sprigs, peeled garlic cloves, orange zest and lemon slices in a large jar. You can chop up the herbs and garlic or leave them whole. In a saucepan, simmer white balsamic vinegar until steaming, but do not let it boil. Pour the simmering vinegar into the jar. Refrigerate the vinegar for two to four weeks to allow all the flavors to infuse.
Heat over-ripe chopped and pitted peaches, honey and white balsamic vinegar in a large saucepan. Remove it from the heat just before it comes to a boil. Let it cool, then puree the vinegar mixture in a food processor until it is smooth. Place a fine sieve over a large bowl and pour the mixture into the sieve, allowing the bowl to catch the drippings. Do not press the vinegar puree into the sieve, but allow it to filter through on its own. Cover and place the entire bowl and sieve in the fridge for up to 2 days. Remove and discard the solids in the sieve. Pour the peach-infused vinegar into a jar and store in the fridge.
- Combine other herbs such as mint, basil and sage with fruits such as pears, plums and mangoes to try a variety of vinegar flavors.
- You can use other types of balsamic vinegar as well, however some types of vinegars have pungent flavors and aromas. If you add fruits and herbs, they may be overpowered by the vinegar.
- You can filter the infused vinegars using a sieve or a cheesecloth to make a clear, flavored vinegar or leave the fruit pulp and herbs in the vinegar.
- Use sprigs of herbs to make decorative bottled vinegars.
- Keep fruit-and-herb-infused vinegar in the fridge to avoid spoilage due to bacterial contamination.
- If you are giving fruit-and-herb-infused vinegar as a gift, attach a storage label to ensure that it is kept in the fridge and used safely.
- Make sure that you are using sterilized jars to prevent bacterial contamination of the vinegar. You can heat the jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes to clean them. Do not use jars with cracks.
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.