© 2006 by Sally Schneider.

Makes 1 to 2 cups

The basic method for doctoring vinegars is simple: steep a flavoring in the vinegar until it takes on as much of that flavor as you like, then strain it out. Potential for marriages among vinegars and flavorings are endless: herbs, such as tarragon, basil, thyme, savory, chive; aromatics such as shallot, garlic, citrus zest, spices; and fruits such as plums, black currants, blackberries, cherries, pears ...

There's no reason you can't blend vinegars: adding some sherry vinegar, say, to red wine or balsamic vinegar to give it more aged flavor, or some balsamic to a red wine vinegar to bring up it's flavor or attenuate the balsamics' sometimes cloying sweetness.

Bear in mind that it sometimes takes time to mellow and harmonize the flavors of the vinegar you've doctored, anywhere from a day to several weeks. Set the corked bottle of vinegar aside and taste it occasionally. You'll know when it's ready. A tiny bit of brown sugar can also do wonders in mellowing a vinegar, and harmonizing its flavors.

  • 1 to 2 cups decent quality vinegar, such as white wine, red wine, Champagne, Sherry,
    cider, rice wine
  • Flavoring: another vinegar, herbs, spices, fruit zest, fruit (cut up or coarsely crushed,
    with pits)

1. Pour the vinegar into a clean, dry jar or large measuring cup. Add your chosen flavoring(s) and leave to steep a couple of hours.

2. Taste the vinegar to gauge its relative strength, that is, how quickly it is taking on flavor. This will depend on the intensity of the flavorings you use, and how much. Taste the vinegar occasionally, as often as you think, until it's a pleasing intensity. This can be as quickly as an hour, or up to several weeks.

3. Strain the vinegar into a clean, dry jar.