Reading through old cookbooks, I’ve come across many recipes for making savory and aromatic vinegars. Evidently, vinegar was sold in different grades.
“Care should be taken to have the bottles that contain them accurately labelled, very tightly corked, and kept in a dry place. The vinegar used for these purposes should be of the very best sort.”
Lower grade vinegar was probably used for pickling.
Tarragon should be gathered on a dry day, just before the plant flowers. Pick the green leaves from the stalks, and dry them a little before the fire. Then put them into a wide-mouthed stone jar, and cover them with the best vinegar, filling up the jar. Let it steep fourteen days, and then strain it through a flannel bag. Pour it through a funnel into half-pint bottles, and cork them well.
SWEET BASIL VINEGAR
Is made precisely in the same manner; also those of green mint, and sweet marjoram.
Pound two ounces of celery seed in a mortar, and steep it for a fortnight* in a quart of vinegar. Then strain and bottle it.
*fortnight – fourteen days
Nearly fill a wide-mouthed bottle with the fresh green leaves of burnet.* Cover them with the best vinegar and let them steep two weeks. Then strain off the vinegar, wash the bottle, and put in a fresh supply of burnet leaves. Pour the same vinegar over them and let it infuse a fortnight longer. Then strain it again and it will be fit for use. The flavor will exactly resemble that of cucumbers.
* Salad burnet is an herb whose leaves taste similar to cucumber
Make a quart of the best vinegar boiling hot, and pour it on four ounces of scraped horseradish. Let it stand a week, then strain it off. Renew the horseradish, adding the same vinegar cold, and let it infuse a week longer, straining it again at the last.
Peel and chop fine four ounces of shalots, or small button onions. Pour on them a quart of the best vinegar, and let them steep a fortnight; then strain and bottle it.
Make garlic vinegar in the same manner; using but two ounces of garlic to a quart of vinegar. Two or three drops will be sufficient to impart a garlic taste to a pint of gravy or sauce. More will be offensive. The cook should be cautioned to use it very sparingly, as to many persons it is extremely disagreeable.
Take a hundred red chillies or capsicums, fresh gathered. Cut them into small pieces and infuse them for a fortnight in a quart of the best vinegar, shaking the bottle every day. Then strain it.
Put two quarts of ripe fresh-gathered raspberries into a stone or china vessel, and pour on them a quart of vinegar. Let it stand twenty-four hours, and then strain it through a sieve. Pour the liquid over two quarts of fresh raspberries, and let it again infuse for a day and a night. Then strain it a second time. Allow a pound of loaf sugar* to every pint of juice. Break up the sugar, and let it melt in the liquor. Then put the whole into a stone jar, cover it closely, and set it in a kettle of boiling water, which must be kept on a quick boil for an hour. Take off all the scum and when cold, bottle the vinegar for use. Raspberry vinegar mixed with water is a pleasant and cooling beverage in warm weather; also in fevers.
*loaf sugar – how sugar was sold before sugar cubes and granulated sugar
SPICED TABLE VINEGAR
Mix in an earthenware pan two ounces of cloves, a quarter of an ounce of mace, and the same quantity each of orange blossoms and cassia bark. Pour a quart of heated strong vinegar over the spices, and let the mixture digest in a warm place for a week. Strain, filter through filter-paper, and bottle.
AROMATIC TABLE VINEGAR
Chop up one ounce each of bay leaves, leaves of rosemary, and leaves of sage, and place them in a fireproof earthenware pan. Add thereto a quarter of an ounce each of cloves, zedoary root,* and chillis. Pour on the mixture a quart of heated strong vinegar, and let it digest in a warm place for a week. Strain, filter, and bottle.
*zedoary root – white tumeric
AROMATIC TABLE VINEGAR (Recipe 2)
Chop up one ounce each of thyme leaves, basil leaves, leaves of marjoram, leaves of tarragon, and bean leaves. Add thereto half an ounce each of chopped shallots and celery. Pour on the mixture a quart of heated strong vinegar, and treat as in the last recipe.
AROMATIC TABLE VINEGAR (Recipe 3)
Chop up and mix half a pound of tarragon leaves, and a quarter pound each of rocambole,* shallots, anchovies, capers, and bay leaves. Pour over them three quarts of heated strong vinegar, and treat as in the first recipe.
*rocamboe – a plant similar to garlic
photo credit for Nasturtium Flower Vinegar