Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Monday, November 19, 2012


I love to make infused vinegars. They make great hostess gifts this time of year.  Or give them to your  neighbors and teachers for the holidays.  One of my favorite flavors of vinegar is Tarragon.  I make the most yummy chicken salad with it.  It's also an ingredient in Bearnaise sauce.  It has so many uses.

Tarragon is a perennial herb, with woody stems  (think rosemary or lavender) and long, soft leaves that taste a bit like licorice.  You consume the leaves only.  At the end of the season, I cut my plant back and dry the leaves and stems. Just lay them out in a single layer on a paper towel-lined tray and cover with another layer of paper towels. You could use a dehydrator but I find that air drying works well in this case.  When the tarragon is dry, I discard the stems after stripping the leaves. Store them in a jar in a dark cabinet.  And the price?  So much less expensive than the market.

Some of the stems go into big glass jars and get covered with white wine vinegar.
After pouring vinegar into the jar on the left, I had to leave to attend to some laundry. Ten minutes later, I came back to pour the vinegar over the jar on the right and the tarragon in the left jar had already lost it's bright green color.  It tastes lovely in vinaigrettes even with the softer color.
After a few weeks, I decant it into smaller bottles, and add a few soft pickled stems .  I cork them and seal the corks to the bottle with paraffin wax.  When I get time, I'll make little labels to tie around the neck and gift these to friends for the holidays.  It is nice to include a recipe or two so that they know how to use the vinegar. 

The very best part of this whole process?  THE PRICE!  The little herb plant cost me $2.00 three years ago, and it produces every year, so I consider my herbs FREE !  The vinegar is white wine vinegar from Costco and cost about $2.50 per gallon.  One gallon of vinegar at $2.50 cents compared with $7.00 for 16 oz. of tarragon vinegar at the market; well worth the small amount of time invested in making it.
Tarragon Vinegar

2 cups of packed tarragon stems, with leaves
1 gallon of white wine vinegar
A sterile, non-reactive container large enough to hold the vinegar and tarragon
     (I use glass refrigerator bottles)

Pack the tarragon stems into the container.
Heat the vinegar and pour it over the stems. Cool.
Seal the container and let the tarragon steep for 1-2 weeks.
Decant the vinegar into smaller containers. Include a few stems of the herb in the bottle if you like.
Cork and dip the cork and part of the bottle neck in hot paraffin wax for longer storage life.
Tie a label to the bottle and include a recipe that incorporates the vinegar.


  1. Our tarragon has gone out of control. This is a wonderful idea. I would love to receive this as a gift...or I can make my own. :)

  2. I usually make infused vinegars for myself. I have got to remember to make some for others as gifts!

  3. Ooooh, looks good! I think tarragon is my most underappreciated herb -- I'm just not very good with it, even though I have it in my little herb garden. Thanks for a fun recipe!

  4. What great lovely Christmas gifts these would make. I would probably never use the vinegar, I would just keep the jars on display. Joni