Make Infused Vinegar at Home for Gourmet Flavor on the Cheap

Infused vinegar is super easy to make. It’s a simple matter of combining the right ingredients and allowing the flavors to meld over time. Gourmet vinegar makes great gifts; it’s so much less expensive than the store bought flavored vinegar.

You might even want to try it in this recipe for caramelized onion jam with balsamic vinegar.

tall bottles of flavored vinegar.

Gourmet flavored vinegars available at specialty stores can be expensive to purchase, but they add so much flavor to recipes. The good news? You can make your own infused vinegar at home for less!


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Flavored Vinegar Infused with Fruit & Herbs

With endless flavor possibilities, infused vinegars impart a delicious flavor to salad dressings and marinades. They’re a great way to add extra oomph to roasted or steamed veggies. Or use them to take pasta salad up a notch.

Choose your Vinegar

Traditional balsamic vinegar hails from the town of Modena in Italy. The process of making it is complex but nets a mild and sweet flavor. White balsamic vinegar is the best choice here and pairs well with the sweetness of fruit.

White vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar are also good options, though these vinegars are a little more harsh in the mouth than balsamic vinegar. To temper the sourness of the vinegar you can add a little bit of sweetener to solve that. 

Each type of vinegar will offer a slightly different flavor, so experiment!

Apple cider vinegar pairs especially well with fruit. Be mindful of this little tidbit when buying apple cider vinegar.

Choose your Fruits and Herbs

Fruits Soft fruit like berries and stone fruit work really well. Don’t hesitate to mash the fruit slightly as you add it to the jar. 

Herbs and spices Adding fresh herbs or whole spices in combination with the fruit or as a flavor all its own ramps up the flavor. Avoid using ground spices as these can cause the vinegar to become cloudy.

strawberry hulls in a glass jar from above.
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Vinegar Flavors to Try

The sky is the limit here. You can do single fruit flavors like strawberry vinegar or do a mix of fruit, based on what you have on hand. 

Making flavored vinegar is a great way to use up small amounts of fresh fruit before it goes bad. 

  • Strawberry mint: Use whole berries or be extra frugal and use the hulls of strawberries from another strawberry recipe
  • Lemon mint: Combine mint and lemon zest for a delicious combo.
  • Lemon thyme: A savory combination perfect for using in salad dressings or marinades.
  • Apple cinnamon: Use chunks of apple and whole sticks of cinnamon.
  • Blackberry basil: This is a great way to salvage berries that are getting too soft for fresh eating.
  • Hot pepper vinegar: Use your favorite type of hot pepper. The heat will vary depending on the type of pepper and how much you use. 
  • Rosemary garlic vinegar: Sprigs of fresh rosemary pack a flavor punch.
  • Cranberry vinegar: Perfect for making a holiday salad dressing.
  • Strawberry orange: Combine strawberries (or strawberry hulls) and orange zest
  • Cranberry orange vinegar: Orange zest and cranberries are delicious together. 
  • Pear peppercorn: Combine ripe pears with whole peppercorns.
  • Peach pie: Combine chunks of ripe peaches with cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, and whole cloves.

Infusing Vinegar

This is more of a method than an actual recipe. You can use less fruit or more fruit, depending on how much you have and how strong you’d like the fruit flavor to be.

You can use a small amount, say a cup of fruit, in a quart of vinegar, or loosely fill a jar with fruit and pour vinegar over to cover it. There’s not a single correct way to do it. 

Berries can be used whole, but should be gently bruised to release more flavor. Larger fruit should be cut into smaller pieces. 

Allow the fruit to infuse in the vinegar for at least two weeks, or up to a month. Once enough time has passed, strain vinegar through cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove the solids. 

Store strained infused vinegar at room temperature for up to three months. Refrigerating the vinegar will extend its shelf life to 6-8 months. 

Packaging Flavored Vinegar for Gifts

This is, as you’d imagine, a delightful gourmet gift for the chefs you love. Flavored vinegar can be bottled up in pretty upcycled jars. Tie on a tag identifying the flavors and wrap it up. (Here’s a cute way to wrap the bottles!)

tall bottles of flavored vinegar.

 

★ Did you make this infused vinegar? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

tall bottles of flavored vinegar.

Flavored Vinegar Infused with Fruit & Herbs

Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

There is so much room to experiment with this recipe! Choose your favorite flavor combinations and stock your pantry with delicious gourmet vinegar on the cheap!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vinegar (see notes)
  • 1-3 cups fresh fruits or herbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Instructions

Infuse the vinegar

  1. Gently warm the vinegar in a pan on the stove, until it just begins to steam. Don’t let it simmer or boil.
  2. Place the fruit in a clean and sanitized wide-mouth mason jar. Use a muddler to tamp down the fruit to release a little juice. if you're using sugar to temper the vinegar (see notes), add it now.
  3. Pour the warmed vinegar over the herbs and fruit in the jar. Cap tightly.
  4. Place it in a cool dark spot and allow to infuse for 2-4 weeks.
  5. When the flavor suits you, strain the vinegar through cheese cloth or a fine sieve to remove solids.
  6. Transfer infused vinegar to storage bottles.
  7. Flavored vinegar will last without loss of quality about 3 months at room temperature, 6-8 months refrigerated.

Notes

Traditional balsamic vinegar has a mild and sweet flavor. White balsamic vinegar is the best choice here and pairs well with the sweetness of fruit.

White vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar are also good options, though these vinegars are a little more harsh in the mouth than balsamic vinegar. To temper the sourness of the vinegar you can add a little bit of sweetener. 

Apple cider vinegar pairs especially well with fruit. Be mindful of this little tidbit when buying apple cider vinegar.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 29Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Originally contributed by Chris Dalziel in August 2016; this post has been completely edited and updated.

canning jar with berries and herbs behind a jar with infused vinegar

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

29 comments… add one
  • Gail Sep 19, 2021 @ 8:52

    I bought your book at the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar store near my house. I cannot recommend it highly enough. So many amazing recipes. I appreciate that there are some where you have given shortcuts for busy people while others require more prep and time. I also was very excited to see the breadth of recipes. This book has far more than Italian recipes and shows ways to incorporate different flavored oils and vinegars for so many types of international foods as well as options for appetizers, side dishes, etc. It is so worth the money!

    My only question is about how many portions (and the size of the portions) for each recipe. Have I missed an explanation in the book?

    * The book also discusses how to select the best oil for your recipes as well as pairing the different oils and vinegars.

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 10, 2021 @ 9:59

      First, I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! Infused vinegar is one of those flexible “recipes” that allow you to play with flavors. More fruit/herbs will make a stronger flavor, less will be more subtle.

  • Honey Jun 12, 2021 @ 11:59

    I received a bottle of blackberry balsamic vinegar as a gift a few years ago. By the time I finally opened it (a couple of years later) and discovered how wonderful it was, I decided to search the name to see where I could buy some more only to discover the company website is now defunct. I tried mixing some pure blackberry juice I canned last summer with some dark balsamic vinegar, but it didn’t have that rich, melded magic. I still have the unwashed bottle, (it was beautiful, after all) just to revisit that wonderful aroma, but now I’m hopeful I might be able to do this. I’m going to try my canned seedless pure blackberry juice again using your methods, but will try again later when the berries come in fresh. I’ll be using Pompeian dark balsamic (my favorite!!) and let you know results later.

    • Attainable Sustainable Jul 1, 2021 @ 10:54

      Excellent, Honey. Looking forward to hearing how your recreation turns out!

  • Paige Nov 4, 2020 @ 13:15

    Have you ever used frozen fruit? These would make such nice Christmas gifts, but I’ve missed the season for fresh berries/cherries 🙁

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2020 @ 17:26

      I haven’t, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work!

  • Robin Jul 21, 2020 @ 4:25

    When making infused vinegar, do I need to use high-end white balsamic or is something like Colavita okay?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 6, 2020 @ 15:35

      You can probably get by with a lower end balsamic.

  • Anne Marie Chrisoulis Jul 6, 2020 @ 23:23

    When heating bottle in oven at 150 do you place bottle in jar of water or do you place jar directly on rack to pasteurized?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 15, 2020 @ 14:42

      Really, either way works.

  • Valerie B Jun 20, 2020 @ 13:45

    I love honey-ginger white basalmic from a local specialty store, but it’s so expensive that I’d like to try my own. I have fresh ginger, white Modena balsamic, and honey but am uncertain of the proportions to use. Can you help?

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 21, 2020 @ 15:26

      Not having tried it, I can’t give a definitive answer, but my gut feeling is that you’d use much less ginger, since it’s pretty strong. Sorry not to be of more help!

      • Jesse Nov 11, 2020 @ 8:06

        I am thinking of trying to make the honey ginger as well. If you make it too strong would I be able to just add some extra vinegar to “water” it down?

        • Kris Bordessa Nov 23, 2020 @ 17:22

          I would think so!

  • Michael Mar 8, 2020 @ 13:04

    Sounds great, Kris; Thank you! We are trying to replace a raspberry flavored Red Wine vinegar. What is the comparison with using red wine vs white balsamic vinegar for this recipe? Also, have you ever heard of adding pure fruit juices @ 20% ratio to flavor vinegar?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 10, 2020 @ 17:38

      You can certainly use red wine vinegar instead, though the flavor will differ, of course. Sounds like you know what you’re after, though. I’d be interested to try the fruit juice idea — it sounds like it should work!

  • Wendy Peden Jun 28, 2019 @ 5:49

    I’m wanting to make Jalapeno flavored like I find at the specialty stores. Suggestions? How much jalapeno do I start with? I don’t mind spicey!!!!

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 3, 2019 @ 7:57

      This is so variable! I think I’d start with small batches, experimenting with the number of peppers. Start with 2-3 jalapenos for a half-pint; if it’s not spicy enough, add more next time!

  • Gale Murillo Jun 17, 2019 @ 8:10

    I tried a couple kinds of herb vinegars, one with garlic and herbs and one with just dill. The garlic-herb vinegar has turned cloudy whereas the dill vinegar remains clear. Do you think the garlic-herb has gone bad, or could it just be the garlic breaking down. I started it just over a week ago, so I haven’t opened it up yet. Your thoughts?

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 22, 2019 @ 10:07

      My guess is that the garlic is causing it to become cloudy, but that may not mean it’s gone bad.

      • Gale Jun 22, 2019 @ 10:47

        I’m not sure how I will know if it’s gone bad. Would I know by tasting it? It shouldn’t make me sick, right? It just wouldn’t tast good?

        • Kris Bordessa Jun 23, 2019 @ 8:32

          Vinegar is a pretty strong preservative. If it were me, I’d take a small taste. And then a bit larger taste. You’ll notice an off taste if it’s bad. I can’t imagine that it would make you sick, but if you’re worried, best to discard and try again.

          • Gale Jul 1, 2019 @ 9:04

            I did taste it and it didn’t make me sick. In fact it was pretty good. The cloudiness disappeared when I strained it through a coffee filter so I think it was just the garlic breaking down. My next attempts will be the berry and a cranberry orange.

  • M Apr 23, 2019 @ 8:15

    These vinegars look so delicious. It’s strawberry season where I live now, and strawberry lemon vinegar would be delightful. It’s my mom’s birthday soon, and she would love this. My husband and I love vinegars and have a whole cabinet full. White balsamic is amazing and lighter tasting than the dark, which is absolutely mouthwatering but can be overpowering. I also love raspberry vinegar and can’t wait to try cherry and peach.

    I really like those swing top bottles and actually found a couple at Target. I use them for a lemonade syrup that I found on Pinterest. You can get a box of these bottles in different colors on Amazon and use them for vinegars, homemade extracts, chocolate syrup (I just made some with Valhrona cocoa).

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 25, 2019 @ 7:28

      I’d like to be in your kitchen right now!

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018 @ 19:01

    Super easy to make!

  • Candi Sep 12, 2016 @ 6:08

    Doesn’t look too hard – thanks for the info.

    I love using flavored vinegars, would be much happier (and healthier) to use my own.

    Can I use Raw Apple Cider Vinegar for this?

  • Janet Niemi Burkholder Aug 24, 2016 @ 8:28

    I am learning and inspired by your berry infused vinegar. Thank you very much.

  • Chris Aug 23, 2016 @ 18:59

    Thanks Chris! I infuse dark balsamic with pears, cherries, raspberries – love it! I get the balsamic from Costco, can’t often find the light balsamic for as good a price. Once I take out the fruit I’ve dried it, it gets black and sticky and all kiinds of different flavours 🙂

    I did make a chive flower white wine vinegar, light balsamic could have been good for that, but the dark way too overpowering.

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