Basil-Infused Vinegar Turns Pink

Basil Infused VinegarA few of my friends have looked suspiciously at the bright pink liquid I pour from an old olive oil bottle onto salads, but once they taste it, they soon come back for more.

Thai, Lemon, Purple, Bush, Aristotle – these are just some of the varieties of basil that sit in pots outside my back door. The side of my house is south-west facing, and the space between my house and my neighbour’s creates a sun trap that’s perfect for tender plants that need warmth.

I’m going to bring a couple of pots inside this year, but for the rest of them, it's curtains come the autumn months. By this time, they’ve usually started to flower or gone to seed.

Rather than just tossing the old plants onto the compost heap, a culinary friend of mine suggested using the sprays of flowers to make basil-infused white wine vinegar. I tried this for the first time last year, and the result was delicious. There are various methods of herb/vinegar infusion that can entail boiling the vinegar and letting it steep for two weeks. Alternatively, you can just squish the herbs into an empty bottle, pour on the white wine vinegar and away you go.

After washing the flowering stems thoroughly, I pushed them into a clean olive oil bottle. I poured in the white wine vinegar, and after allowing a few moments for the basil and vinegar to get acquainted, I splashed it over my salad.

In a few days, the liquid turns bright pink. The first time it did this I phoned my friend in alarm - she assured me that it was perfectly normally. I’ve since used my basil-infused vinegar to dress a variety of salads and vegetables; it’s especially tasty on green beans.

Of course, you can do this with any herbs, not just basil. Nasturtiums and chillies can also be used. As I still have both of these growing plentifully in the garden, I can see more bottles of dodgy looking liquids appearing on my kitchen shelves.

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