Cold infused vinegars are exactly as they sound. You put fruit and vegetables into cold vinegar and leave them to mature. You have to be patient though and don’t start tasting the vinegar until you’re at least three months in.
First sterilise the jar(s) you’re going to use for infusing. This is simple – wash and rinse them (including the lids), dry them and put the jars in an oven on 160C for 15 minutes, turn the oven off and put the lids face up in for about 10 minutes. Leave them to cool before adding the vinegar otherwise you could cook the ingredients and that’s not good.
I thinly slice most things I use. Lime, lemon and oranges are great as they add a good flavour and mixed with fresh bell peppers, paprika and chilli of various heat they work well.
Once whatever you are using is in the jar then fill it with the vinegar until it just covers the top of them. Put them somewhere dark. I used the airing cupboard or the bottom of the wardrobe. As long as they’re well sealed they won’t make your clothes stink.
Lemon with red bell peppers tastes earthy if left about nine months and is great for using in stock.
A beautifully juicy lime can turn the acidity of the vinegar into something that’s wonderfully flavoured and well-rounded.
A well drained tin of gold pineapple makes a divine vinegar. My mouth waters just thinking about it!
Shallots and other onions make incredible tasting vinegars and, of course, ideal for fish and chips!
If you get some decent and almost ripe cherry tomatoes then prick the bottoms with a skewer and cover them with about a centimetre of vinegar over the top of them. Put the jar in an airing cupboard or somewhere dark where they won’t be disturbed and give them a shake from time to time. Leave them about nine months and you get a vinegar that tastes of tomatoes.
Remember that everything you use to flavour vinegar will become a pickle and you get to experiment with cooking with them.
I’ve had some misses with cold infusions – garlic and ginger being two of them but I’m going to try them as warm infusions at some point and see if that makes a difference.
Vinegar is fabulous to experiment with. It has to be a distilled malt vinegar or a distilled non-brewed condiment as you get a beautiful colour from the things you’re flavouring it with. Shallots turn the vinegar into a gorgeous pale pink colour. Malt vinegar can overwhelm the flavours of the fruits etc.