Friday, July 23, 2010

Lemon Vinegar

I mentioned lemon vinegar once before, but the more I think about it, the more I think it deserves its own page. There are a ton of recipes in historical cookbooks for vinegars flavored with berries, but I really really love this citrus variation.

IMG_3087-1.jpg picture by seshet27

Here is my baseline recipe (from, but the one pictured above uses one lemon, 4 limes, 3 bay leaves, and 4 cups of vinegar. The bay is really unnecessary, it just adds the tiniest bit of depth to the flavor. Not enough that most people can notice, but enough to be delicious without them knowing why.

Lemon Vinegar
35 oz. white vinegar
2 lemons
4 bay leaves

1. Pour the vinegar into a stainless steel pan.
2. Wash the lemons and pare the rind from them with a potato peeler.
3. Add the peel to the pan with the bay leaves and boil for 5 minutes.
4. Cover and leave to go cold.
5. Bottle, including the peel and the bay.
6. Leave for 4 weeks.
7. The vinegar can then either be strained and bottled or used as it is, depending on the strength you require.

I find it is ready to use almost immediately. It gets stronger over time, sure, but it's also darn good right away. I highly recommend the limes, too. They are FAB.

But what do I do with this?

1. Make a shrub. Splash about a tablespoon in a glass, add a couple spoonfuls of the sweetener of your choice, and fill up with ice water. I know, the vinegar sounds weird, but it is really really good. It sparkles in your mouth like a mild soda, and the taste is really similar to lemonade or limeade. It's like having lemonade infinitely on tap in the fridge! I have told you before and I will tell you again: try it. Just try it.

2. Mix it half-and-half with water, pour in a spray bottle, and use as cleanser. You can use it on pretty much everything, and you'll be amazed how well it works. The citrusy scent is just a delightful bonus. Real citrus, too, not lemon-flavored Pledge.

3. Wash your hair. I'm trying the no-poo thing.

4. Salad dressing.

5. Fresh cucumber pickles

5. Marinades

6. Make your kitchen smell fabulous. Boiling vinegar or vinegar and water will take nasty cooking smells out of the air. Try making a batch of this next time your kitchen smells awful. Claim you let it get awful on purpose, FOR SCIENCE.

7. Unclog your nose. Stick your head over this while it is boiling. Man.

8. Try a historical recipe using vinegar. Report back.

9. Finally, attach this list and some lovely decorative dried lemon slices and give as gifts! I know what my neighbors will be getting for Christmas this year....

Which of these are you most tempted by? Can you think of any other good ideas?


Nonna Beach said...

I'd do #6 ( drink it ? no way, I'd burn my guts out ) and it also would be a good recipe for a science fair project ( for Science )... put baking soda inside a paper mache volcano, add lemon vinegar mixture...wha - la, instant extra credit from the teacher for that delicious smell emanating from the eruption and an unclogged nose to boot !

Nonna Beach said...

I was just kidding about the drinking part...It's almost 5 a.m. here and the insomnia went to my head ( and brain ) I'd probably do #2 also...much nicer smelling than straight vinegar to clean with for sure !

BTW, I have a friend who has been doing the No- shampoo thing for almost a year and loves it.I was skeptical until I smelled her hair...fresh and clean !
AND...thank you
Your posts saved me from just sitting watching endless infomercials and horrid I'm relaxed and sleepy at last...have a great weekend !

Jana said...

Mmmm... lemon-scented volcano...

You are welcome! I live to serve.

Kate said...

I noticed that you love comments so very very much so here I am commenting. And I'm totally gonna make this stuff!

Jana said...

YAY! :D Thanks Kate, let me know how it works out for you!

Charlie said...

Dad used to take the mixture of vinegar, sugar and water to the fields while haying (called it switchel); your vinegar would have even been better. Purchased home grown lemons the size of pomelos in Hawaii. They would have been great for this. Thanks. Years ago I got a recipe for preserved lemons from a 1800's cookbook, but never had the amounts of lemons needed. This is Alaska, remember! but I never gave up hope...

Jana said...

Switchel is pretty okay too! It traditionally involves molasses and apple cider vinegar. Tastes kind of like ginger ale. I prefer lime shrubs though.

And on the plus side, all those gorgeous berries in Alaska. And you can make raspberry vinegar too! I weep a little every time I see the price of raspberries here. :'(

Do I by chance know you personally?

Jana said...

Never mind, I know who you are! Welcome! :D Jealous of the home grown lemons.