Preserve the Season

How to Make Herb Infused Vinegars

So many different herbs lend themselves well to making infused vinegars. It’s fun and easy to grow your own herbs but we also like the freshest bundles from the farmers’ market.

Tarragon, dill, and basil are all classic flavorings, but you can also use more unusual herbs such as lovage, fennel, opal basil, shiso, lemon verbena, chervil, chive flowers, or salad burnet to flavor vinegars.

To make herb-infused vinegar, put a few sprigs of your favorite herb into a jar or bottle.

Top with good quality vinegar variety such as Champagne, white or red wine, or cider. Let the herbs and vinegar steep for two weeks, then taste.

When the vinegar is ready, strain and re-bottle it, replacing the original herbs with fresh sprigs.

Due to its acidity, your vinegar will easily keep for six months to a year.

Herb vinegars do not need to be refrigerated but are best stored in a cool, dark place.

Eat Good Food

Stocking the Spring Pantry

spring pantry

Stocking the spring pantry with essentials helps you make the most of the season’s unfolding bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

With your pantry well stocked, you’ll be prepared to cook a wide range of dishes, and you’ll save time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the store.

Enjoying spring’s beautiful produce means letting the flavors speak for themselves. The following are some of the ingredients that pair well with spring produce to build or enhance dishes.

Anchovies Cured fillets, packed either in olive oil or salt (our preference, as these have a longer shelf life), add an umami depth to salad dressings and pasta sauces. Just one or two mashed-up fillets can be the magic ingredient that enhances flavors.

Black Peppercorns and a good pepper mill.

Chicken or Vegetable Stock Homemade stock for making risottos, light soups and braises, and pasta en brodo.

Condiments
Cornichons 
are an essential ingredient for egg salads, sauce gribiche, and charcuterie; Dijon mustard is traditionally added to vinaigrettes to dress salad greens, poached leeks, or asparagus spears; Capers, packed in brine or salt, are an essential ingredient in salsa verdes, remoulade, and ravigote, and add tang and pungency to chicken, fish, and pasta.

Dried Pasta
A year-round pantry staple, pasta is a great vehicle for spring vegetables as in Pasta Primavera. If you have several types — some long like Linguine and Fettuccine, some shaped like Penne and Orecchiette — you’re halfway to dinner.

Dried Red Pepper Flakes A pinch of red pepper flakes added during the cooking process goes a long way to heighten flavor any season of the year.

Grains
Quinoa (grain salads); Millet (muffins and waffles for crunch protein); Farro (salads and risottos); Arborio rice (risottos); Brown rice (pilafs, rice bowls, salads); Buckwheat flour (sweet and savory crepes).

Lentils A quick-cooking legume that makes a nice warm side dish or a fresh, cool salad. The tiny green French variety LePuy and Black Belugas are favorites. Yellow lentils are common in Indian cooking.

Nuts
Pine nuts, Pistachios, and Almonds, toasted quickly in a skillet, are versatile additions to be used in salads, rice dishes, and pestos.

Oils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut OilMake sure yours are fresh.

Seasonings
A few seasonings from our SHED Pantry line that add great flavor to some of our favorite springtime dishes include Moroccan spice blends such as Ras el Hanout to enhance lamb and chicken dishes; Tarragon Caper Powder for asparagus salads, poached fish, and devilled eggs; Shiitake Mushroom Powder to add umami to dashi broths for poaching fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Salts
Flaky Maldon Salt, and flavored salts such as Lemon Salt and Green Salt from SHED’s Pantry line.

Vinegars
Stock a few varieties such as Champagne vinegar; Banyuls, a mellow red wine with a complex nutty flavor; White Wine vinegar and Rice Wine vinegar.

Verjus The pressed juice of unripened grapes, verjus can be red (made from either purely red grapes or a red-white mix) or white (made from white grapes). While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used in salad dressings as well as marinades. You can use white verjus as you would use white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine—it is good in beurre blanc, or other sauces for chicken or fish.

Preserve the Season

Make Your Own Vinegar at Home

Making your own vinegar at home is easy – all it takes is wine and patience! Having beautiful stoneware in which to age and store your homemade vinegar just makes it all the better.

We are proud to be the only U.S. purveyor of Poterie de Digoin, an artisanal ceramic business founded in 1875 in the region of Digoin and Paray-le-Monial, known as “the valley of ceramics” in Burgundy, France.

For 141 years, Digoin have specialized in the everyday ceramic batterie de cuisine that comprise the French family kitchen: vinegar crocks, yogurt and mustard pots, salt cellars, terrines, pitchers, bowls, jugs, all made of the natural materials of that region – clay, feldspar, and kaolin.

This recipe from Poterie de Digoin pairs a humble but essential condiment with their handsome crocks. Make your own vinegar at home today!

Preparing the Crock

Submerge the cork and tap in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Insert the cork as far as possible into the spout of the vinegar crock, then add the tap. Never leave the vinegar crock empty. The join between the cork and the tap will dry and lose its water-tightness (and then will drip or leak).

Preparing the “Mother”

The simplest thing is to procure a piece of “mother,” the central fermentation deposit that forms in the making of wine. However, you can make your own by mixing one or two cups of vinegar with wine and leaving the mixture in an open bottle or uncovered vinegar crock. You will then obtain the “mother” used for the preparation of vinegar. From time to time, check on its thickness. If it becomes too thick then remove half of the mother.

Preparing the Vinegar

Pour two liters of good red or white wine in the vinegar crock, placing the mother delicately on top, covering the opening of the crock with cheesecloth. Wait two months. The vinegar will then be converted from the wine. You may remove one liter of vinegar that you may season with rosemary, thyme, basil, pepper, garlic, cassis, etc. Add wine as needed to continue to make the vinegar and keep the mother and tap moist.

Store the vinegar crock in a cool place and use often, adding your own homemade flavors to your own homemade foods.