Making Opal Basil Herbal Vinegar

Every summer, I make this beautiful, raspberry tinted opal basil vinegar with the herbs from the garden. It’s a great marinade for flank steaks, or to use on a salad with olive oil. You’ll definitely want some opal basil in your herb garden!

bottles of finished opal basil vinegar and jar of steeping opal basil vinegar

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What is opal basil?

Opal basil is an herb that I grow from seed every year. It’s easy to grow, and it’s one of those herbs that is hard to find otherwise.

Deep purple-black leave of an opal basil plant

The deep purple leaves are almost black, with some leaves having a touch of green.

The flavour is the same as the more common green basil – but the purple leaves make all the difference in an herbal vinegar.

How to make opal basil vinegar

The night before I am going to make the vinegar, I hose off all the herb plants that I will use the next morning. You want to be sure that the herbs are clean, but they must be absolutely dry before using for vinegar.

The slightest amount of water will cloud the finished product – and it looks gross.

Next, wash a large glass jar in the dishwasher. I have huge jars that I got from a restaurant. The jars held maraschino cherries.

Gather the herbs

The next morning – before noon – I gather the herbs for the opal basil vinegar:

Deep purple-black leave of an opal basil plant
Opal Basil
oregano plants in the herb garden against a cobalt blue, ceramic bird
Oregano
sage leaves growing in the herb garden
Sage
Flat-leaf parsley plant growing in the herb garden
Parsley

I take all of these herbs and stuff the generous amounts into the large jar.

If I have thyme and/or rosemary growing in the herb garden, I will put a little of each of those in the jar too.

Add a small handful of black peppercorns to the jar.

Next, I fill the jar with white vinegar. (Be sure it’s 5% acidic, and not the “cleaning” vinegar.)

Herbs stuffed into a large, clear glass jar and steeping in white vinegar

If the jar has a metal cap, use a doubled thickness of waxed paper over the jar before screwing on the cap. Metal and vinegar don’t play nicely together.

Steep the herbs

To steep the herbs, leave the jar in the sun for two weeks. The warmth of the sun will infuse the vinegar.

To decant the opal basil vinegar

A few days before I am going to strain and bottle the vinegar, I gather all the decorative bottles I am going to use and run them through the dishwasher. Again, these need to be absolutely dry before putting the opal basil vinegar in them.

Put a few layers of cheesecloth in a plastic funnel, and carefully pour the herbal mixture into the bottles.

To add a decorative touch, I slide a long sprig of sage into the bottle – using a wooden chopstick to push the sprig into the neck of the bottle.

If you are using corks in the bottles, you can dip the corks in melted wax to seal the bottles. (but it’s not necessary to do so.)

bottles of finished opal basil vinegar and jar of steeping opal basil vinegar

Opal basil vinegar makes a wonderful gift, so start saving some pretty bottles!

More ideas for your garden harvest

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