Herbal Vinegars safety
I am an intern at Craig hospital and I am planning to do an activity making homemade herbal vinegars with patients in Therapeutic Recreation. I really appreciated the article on Flavored Vinegars & Oils 9.340. I want to make this an educational experience for participants and had a few questions as to why certain protocols should be followed for safety.
What is the reason behind heating the vinegar?
What if you don't strain the herbs out?
Do vinegars need to be stored in the fridge for safety reasons or just to preserve flavor?
How long do the vinegars last in the fridge?
Thank you so much for your help!
Arapahoe County Colorado
Thanks for the question on making flavored vinegars.
Why heat the vinegar? Two reasons: 1) Heating the vinegar adds safety to the final product by further reducing the number of any remaining mold or yeast spores. 2) Heating the vinegar helps it penetrate into the tissues of the herbs and pull out the flavor.
What if you don’t strain the herbs out? Couple of reasons: 1) Straining the herbs out stops the infusion process so that vinegar does not become too strong or too dark colored. 2) Straining the herbs out makes for a more aesthetic presentation. After 3-4 week steeping in vinegar, some herbs darken and look unappealing. 3) During the process of straining you can also filter out any small particles that might make the vinegar look cloudy.
Do vinegars need to be stored in the fridge? No. For best flavor and color infused vinegars have a shelf life of about 3 months, but have a refrigerator life of 6-8 months.
Please note that the fact sheet you referenced tells you to dip the herbs in a chlorine bleach and water solution made with 1 teaspoon bleach per 6 cups or water and then rinse well. This dilution rate is based on using 5.25 % bleach. Many of today’s household bleaches are 8.25%. Look at the bottle, under active ingredients. If it is 8.25 %, the correct dilution rate is ¼ teaspoon per 4 cups of water and then rinse well.
I received your voicemail with the same questions, so I will not return the call, but call or write again if you have other questions.