Vinegar for Chutneys & Relishes
There are a wide variety of vinegars for preserving chutneys and relishes; some are strong and sharp like malt and white vinegar. Cider vinegar gives great colour and flavour in fruit chutneys and reduces the time chutneys need to mature. Wine vinegars or homemade spiced vinegars give a subtler flavour and are good for pickling fruits such as plums or peaches or nasturtium seeds.
Any preserve made with vinegar needs time to mature. Chutneys need to be left for 4 – 6 weeks to achieve best flavour, possibly a little longer if malt vinegar has been used to allow the flavours to develop and the vinegar to mellow. Vegetable and fruit pickles contain larger amounts of vinegar and less sugar and so need 2- 4 weeks before they are ready, but are often better if left for longer.
Herb, Spice & Fruit Vinegar
Making your own herb or spice vinegars can add great alternative flavours to your pickles, chutneys, dressings, sauces, gravies, mayonnaises and in your general cooking! E.g. add some to your Bolognese sauce for a subtle flavour variation.
Fruit vinegars can be trickled over salads, mixed with cold sparkling water for a summer drink or sipped in winter to soothe a tickly throat.
To make berry vinegars put 1kg of raspberries, strawberries or blackberries into 600ml cider or white wine vinegar and leave for a week before straining through muslin. For every 600ml of fruit vinegar add 450g sugar bring to the boil ensuring sugar is dissolved and boil for 8-10 mins. Leave to cool and pour into sterilised bottles when cold. Fruits need to be dry otherwise the water will dilute the vinegar and affect its keeping quality.
Great herbs for making vinegars include: fresh tarragon, rosemary, basil, oregano and mint but you can experiment with other herbs also or combinations of different herbs and perhaps spices too! (You can also experiment with different types of vinegar, however, remember that if your vinegar is already flavoured, your herbs may only show a hint of their aroma or taste)