Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bottled Bliss



My friend Denise recently turned 30. For this threshold birthday, she'd planned a big soiree, complete with a Spanish theme and a bonfire. Fate had other plans, it turned out, dumping a boatload of snow the day of the bash, rendering the roads into a treacherous, slick, ice-clad nightmare. She was disappointed, to say the least. I was saddened, too, as I'd made a honey Valencia orange cake for the occasion.

I had to wait for almost a week's worth of snow thaw before I could safely venture out of my secluded, shade-prone, one mile dirt road-sited mountain home to make it to Denise's similarly hard to reach outpost. High up a steep dirt road (I likened it the other day to driving in San Francisco), Josh and Denise's place is not for the faint of vehicular heart.

I finally made it over, though, with the remains of the cake (we couldn't let it go to waste during the wait!), and some goodies from my pantry. The infused vinegar you see before you was one of the gifts. It's phenomenally easy to make and is a great go-to birthday, host/-ess, housewarming, or "it's Tuesday and you're awesome" gift for the culinarily inclined folks in your life.

The possibilities for infusing agents are endless. To organic white wine vinegar, I added lavender springs (dried from my lavender plant last season), fresh sage and rosemary from my yard, peeled, whole garlic cloves, and dried bird's eye chilies from the summer's crop. It looked gorgeous in the bottle and will undoubtedly be delectable on the palate.

If you've got some empty bottles lying around (we keep almost every bottle we come across, our basement a veritable treasure trove of former olive oil, vinegar, and liquor bottles), and some vinegar, you can whip up infused bottles of your own. From berries to spices, from herbs to chilies, bottled bliss can be yours for a fraction of what you'd shell out for ready made.

14 comments:

meg said...

This looks gorgeous!
An aside question- how do you remove the 'original scent' from jars? I am thinking primarily of pickled items?

ashley english said...

meg-your question is an astute one! my solution is to simply not use jars with heavy residual odors, like pickle jars. i've found the scent to be almost impossible to remove.

instead, by using former olive oil, vinegar, and liquor jars, i'm able to simply clean the jar in the dishwasher with no residue or aroma left behind.

Anonymous said...

Lovely! It is always such fun to create your own.

Sense of Home said...

The bottle looks lovely, at the risk of sounding foolish though, when do you use the vinegar? In salad dressing when vinegar is called for? I need some suggestions. Also when you make the infused vinegar, how long can you leave it on the pantry shelf unsealed? I am new to this process.

Thanks, Brenda

ashley english said...

brenda-you can use it whenever a splash or two of vinegar is called for. that might be in a salad dressing (if you're making an easy, instant vinaigrette) or in some other sauce calling for vinegar. once bottled, i'd use up the vinegar within one year.

Lindsay Road said...

I love dipping bread in oil in vinegar...

Good idea on the infused vinegar. Thanks!

Allison

Amber said...

That's a great, easy, simple and meaningful gift! I can't wait for my garden of herbs to use for things like this.

My life changed once I learned I could put plants in alcohol, vinegar, or hot water and make an endless combination of flavors and benefits. :)

Pam said...

I love infused vinegars! This is a combination I hadn't thought of.

tigress said...

this looks amazing! i never make infused vinegar, but after reading this post i'm askng myself: what have you been waiting for?! :)

Morgan G said...

Love this, Ashley! Quick question: how long does it take for the infusion to, well, infuse? I guess I'm asking if I gift this to someone, how long should I tell them to wait before opening it?

ashley english said...

morgan-wait a week, at least, two ideally. you can go ahead and make it and give it to your recipient, though; just tell them the details on the "waiting period" when you give it to them.

panthercreekcottage said...

Beautiful vinegar! I would love to have a pretty bottle like that sitting nearby, in lieu of a floral arrangement even. I save most my bottles as well, but it is the label removing task I don't like so much.

ALFIE said...

lovely idea!! can't wait to be able to make some homemade gift this summer-- with fresh herbs & flowers from my garden !

Cyn said...

I need to start searching my basement for bottles. I know I have a small collection down there and now I'm excited to have a beautiful use for them!