Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The blackberry vinegar is decanted

blackberry vinegar - it's jewel-toned beauty sparkles on my kitchen counter


Just in time for winter citrus salads, cabbage slaws, and chopped turkey salad, the blackberry vinegar is decanted and ready to use.



I began the infusion in late August (you can read more from that post here), with wild blackberries and white vinegar. Yesterday morning, I strained off the berries and decanted it into an empty bottle (held the chive blossom vinegar, previously).



For a vinaigrette dressing for citrus/avocado salads, I whisk berry vinegar with oil, a pinch each of salt and sugar, and a teaspoon of orange zest. (For an easy berry vinaigrette, the recipe that I use is in this post. Any unsweetened berry vinegar will work in this recipe.)


Or, for dressing cabbage slaws or chopped turkey salad, I simply mix berry vinegar with mayo, a tiny pinch of sugar and a handful of dried cranberries.



As my kids used to put it, "I like to make stuff". I enjoy the process of taking some raw materials and transforming them into something useful, or of beauty.

How about you? Do you enjoy "making stuff"? Do you make your own salad dressings? What's your favorite homemade dressing?

16 comments:

  1. The avocado citrus salad looks delicious.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I've seen some good prices on avocados this week. I'm hoping to pick up a couple soon.

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  2. Yum...your use of the blackberry vinegar in salads sounds so delicious! I saved your instructions and plan on trying this next year. I can't wait. :)

    Yes, I do LOVE 'making stuff'! It's so much fun, and it usually results in a higher quality/healthier product and significant savings. Let's see...'stuff' I make:

    Deodorant
    Foaming hand soap
    Laundry detergent
    Eye cream
    All purpose spray cleaner
    Taco seasoning
    Seasoned salt
    Brownie mix
    Vanilla

    I sometimes make my own salad dressings. I have made a homemade French dressing and my favorite is a homemade Sweet and Tangy dressing with oil, vinegar, sugar and dry mustard powder...it's delicious!

    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      That's an impressive list of homemade products!

      What recipe have you followed for the deodorant? And you're satisfied with how well it works? I think I'll try making deodorant after the first of the year.

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    2. Lili,

      Here is the original deodorant recipe I started with:

      2 Tb coconut oil
      1 Tb baking soda
      3 Tb arrowroot power (can sub cornstarch)
      5 drops of essential oil of choice (optional)

      Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and put into a container for storage. The coconut oil may be melted first for easier mixing...allow to harden before use.

      Now, I found that I am a little sensitive to the baking soda. I had some burning and stinging from the original recipe. From what I've read online, that is a common issue. So after reading of others tweaking the recipe with success, I cut the baking soda down to 2 tsp. That works great for me and I have no more burning and stinging.

      I am very satisfied with how well it works. I've used it since July and we have very hot and humid summers and it lasts all day for me. I would say it works just as good as commercial AP/Deodorants.

      I bought the Nutiva brand coconut oil and Bob's Red Mill arrowroot powder from Amazon. I live in a more rural area and couldn't even find arrowroot powder in stores. I had some Amazon gift cards to use also. You may be able to find these items in your local stores at reasonable prices. I will say that the coconut oil and arrowroot powder will last me for a VERY long time.

      I store my deodorant in a pretty 4 oz jelly jar. The coconut oil is shelf stable, and solid at room temperature. It remained solid in my bathroom cabinet even during the summer months because we have to run AC. I have heard that some who have higher temps in their homes store it in the fridge.

      It's different at first, applying deodorant with fingers instead of from a store bought container. It actually feels like a deodorant consistency when I scoop some from the jar, then it melts into my skin and dries nicely. I have read that some people clean out a store bought deodorant container. They pour the homemade deodorant into the container while the coconut oil is melted and then let it harden. Then it can be used like store bought deodorant. I have also read that people have added a little beeswax to keep it more solid during storage in the summer.

      A lot of people scent their homemade deodorant with essential oils. Lavender seems to be really popular for women and tea tree and sandalwood for men. I haven't scented mine yet because basically I haven't wanted to spend the money on essential oils...and I'm not unhappy with the scent of the deodorant as it is. I keep an eye out for a good deal on essential oils though. :)

      I also make an eye cream with the coconut oil, the oil from a vitamin E capsule and some aloe vera (from my plant). It works really well. My mom is 63 and started using it and has really noticed a difference in the appearance of lines and wrinkles. It also serves as an eye makeup remover.

      I have also rubbed plain coconut oil on my face (after removing makeup) at night about 15 minutes before I go to bed. This one may not be for everyone...especially not with oily skin. My skin is very dry though and I have noticed so much improvement. And my skin glows like I was in my 20's again. :) It's better to put it on before bedtime though. It soaks in really well before I go to bed. Then I wash my face in the morning and my skin is great. I can apply my makeup without the CeraVe I used previously. I tried the coconut oil under makeup and that didn't go quite so well. LOL.

      If you try the deodorant, I hope you like it!

      Angie

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    3. Thank you so much, Angie! I'm going to try this! Coconut oil is reasonable at Trader Joe's here, and I can buy Arrowroot at a local health store in bulk.

      Coconut oil also makes a good pre-wash conditioner on hair. Rub about 1 1/2 teaspoons in, on dry hair, then shampoo.

      Thanks again!

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  3. Your vinegar bottle looks very pretty. Wow, your ground isn't covered in snow! :)

    In the kitchen I'm more likely to make my own "stuff" although I admit we have a weakness for Ken's salad dressings. I haven't tried making my own cleaning products . Sometimes it's fun for me to make things and sometimes it feels overwhelming.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      Not so much as a speck of snow on the ground, here!

      I know what you mean about sometimes, projects can seem overwhelming. I give a lot of thought to new projects, and sometimes I choose not to go ahead at the time, because it just seems too daunting. I may come back to that project later on, when my frame of mind is feeling more adventurous. But then again, I may decide that I can do more and better projects/jobs in the time I would've spent on the original and daunting one.

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  4. Whoa, that's really beautiful vinegar!

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    1. Hi Kristen,
      Thanks! The amazing thing is it's totally fool-proof!

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  5. The blackberry vinegar looks beautiful in the bottle, Lili.

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    1. Thank you, Belinda!
      I hope you and your daughter are enjoying the holiday season!

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  6. Beautiful vinegar! You've got me wanting to make some flavored vinegar. Can you use frozen berries?

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    1. Hi Kath,
      I'm not an expert, but I think you would be wise, for safety sake, to use a cooked berry recipe if using frozen berries. Frozen berries will have burst, and the additional liquid from the thawed berries could thin/dilute the vinegar solution.

      A cooked recipe that calls for heating berries, in vinegar, with a small amount of sugar, is what I'm thinking of. Typically a recipe like this calls for 1 1/2 cups of berries, 2 cups of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Place all the berries, 1/2 of the vinegar and all of the sugar in a stainless saucepan. Crush the berries lightly with a potato masher. Bring all to a boil, and simmer vigorously for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the other half of the vinegar. Cool. Pour this mixture (berries and all) into a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 weeks. After steeping, strain through a few layers of cheesecloth, and store in a sterilized bottle, in a cool and dark place. It's ready to use at this point. This is basically how you make blueberry vinegar. But will work for a lightly sweetened raspberry or blackberry vinegar, too. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

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  7. I love making things too, at least most of the time :) I've been meaning to try your berry vinegar for a while now, thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Hi Liz,
    You're welcome! Let me know which kind of berry vinegar you make, how you like it, and what ways you find to use it.

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.