Did you know you could be throwing money down the drain when using fresh herbs? Why? I bet you throw away the stems. Well, I am here to tell you to save those stems and make your own herb stem vinegar! Let’s get started!
Yep. We are going to infuse our fresh stems in vinegar.
My choice of vinegar is apple cider vinegar but you can use white wine or champagne vinegar if you like. I like the tang of apple cider vinegar and it makes an excellent base for salad dressings. (Remember we talked about making basil or chive flower vinegar?)
How to Make Herb Stem Vinegar:
1. Simply break up your stems to fit in your jars and allow about an inch of head space from the stems to the top of the jar. I usually break up my stems so they just fit in the jar. (Think carrot strips standing straight up.)
2. Then add your vinegar of choice.
3. Add a cheese cloth or paper towel as the lid.
4. Let sit for three weeks.
5. Decant and enjoy the vinegar blend.
Some Important Notes:
Although the process of making herbal stem vinegar seems relatively easy, there are some key concept you must know.
- You want to use fresh stems. Strip your leaves and cover the stems quickly. Although the stems are fragrant, they lose their smell quickly. So use the strip and dunk method. If you don’t have your vinegar of choice available, put the stems in water and then place in the refrigerators with a plastic bag. The plastic bag mimics humidity to keep the stems fresh.
- Only use stems from plants that are highly aromatic such as mint, lemon basil, lavender, tarragon, and anise hyssop. In fact, I didn’t include basil, since the stems have virtually no smell. One of the containers above contains Rama holy basil since the stems were so fragrant.
- One of my favorite mints is apple mint for making herbal stem vinegar since the stem is nice and sturdy and aromatic.
- Make sure you leave about inch of head space in your jars. You want to make sure the fresh stems are covered so mold doesn’t occur.
- Constantly check to see if the vinegar hasn’t evaporated. Once I left vinegar with leaves to brew and totally forgot about it. The apple cider vinegar had evaporated. What a mold mess!
- Use a cheese cloth or paper towel around the top of the jar. If you use a metal top, the vinegar will cause the jar top to rust. I have used saran wrap under the cap, but the cap still rusted. Plastic caps are great to use too.
- After your herb stems brew, the smell won’t be as strong as if you use the leaves. However, the stems create a nice mellow smell, which combined with an oil will make a delicious salad dressing or marinade. In fact, you can use this brew in lieu of vinegar in any of your recipes.
Oh and don’t forget to read how to store your dried herbs properly after you infuse your stems.
Join the Conversation:
What do you do with your herb stems? Have you ever made herb stem vinegar?
Thank you for the amazing idea! Could I do the same with olive oil?
Maria, you can but you have to put it in the refrigerator and use with in a few days. The water in the stems could cause botulism in the oil. I honestly wouldn’t try it. Anna
Ushmana Palmo Rai says
This is an amazing innovation! I had ever heard of anything like this before. Definitely giving this a try, but with white vinegar . Thank you for sharing!
John Dumelow says
Well i’ll be, our family has been farming for over 27 years and i didn’t know about this. you learn something every day. thanks anna.