Monday, 30 September 2013 | 18 comments

Basil flower vinegar

Now that summer’s over, I took a few hours to clean up some of the herb plants in our front garden before they get frosted. I collect bundles and hang them high in the kitchen where it’s typically pretty dry and well-ventilated, and where they aren’t exposed to too much sun.Some of my basil–especially a big blue basil plant—had exploded into bloom in the past month or so. Herb flowers are pretty as garnishes and beautifully aromatic, but are typically a bit too bitter for culinary use. My sister, though, reminded me of a basil flower vinegar she has made in the past. It’s a simple way to use up some of the flowers (that typically just get thrown onto the ground when I pluck them off the plants), and adds an interesting ingredient to your pantry. I use the herb-infused vinegar primarily for vinaigrettes, but have also put it to work to add a hit of bright acid to finish soups and stews, or to deglaze a pan.

Basil flower vinegar

You’ll need

  1. Fresh, unbruised basil flowers
  2. Vinegar of your choice (Wine vinegars work nicely here; I used an inexpensive white wine vinegar and a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar that was a gift. Both worked well.)


  1. Gently rinse and dry basil blossoms.
  2. In a sealable container, pour vinegar over the blossoms.
  3. Steep in the refrigerator for a few days. If desired, remove the basil flower blossoms when the vinegar reaches the flavor you want (some people say that the blossoms can add an unpleasant flavor to the vinegar if steeped too long, but if this is true, the acid in the vinegar masks it to my palate).

§ 18 responses to Basil flower vinegar

  • I like the picture of the herb bundles hanging around the hanging pots and pans. Things drying for the winter are cozy aren’t they. I’ve been drying bunches of yarrow a friend picked for me, and the mushrooms that are growing like crazy in northern Germany this year. Something about the incredibly hot, dry summer followed by copious rain all through September.

    My mom in law has caught preserving fever this year too and sent me home yesterday with jars full of different things made of pears from their small pear tree that was suddenly erupting with pears this year. Best of all, she’s suspended home-grown blackberries suspended in clear sugared liquor; an after-dinner drink and a dessert in one.

    I never realized, by the way, that herb leaves are good for anything — was always pinching them off rabidly to try to keep the plants bushy and tender longer. I’ll keep this vinegar in mind!

  • What a wonderful idea. I’ll have to see if the basil plants at my parents’ house is in bloom, I’d love to make a basil vinegar. Preserving some of the flavors of summer makes me so happy, I just don’t really have the space and the resources in fresh vegetables to preserve as much as I’d like.

  • Margit Van Schaick

    It makes me happy to be thrifty and creative in using every possible bit of the garden. Your photos so alluringly tell the story of Summer, including these precious weeks of ‘Indian Summer’. Thank you for the recipe–now I have another way to use herb blossoms, in addition to my usual tossing them in to my weekly lentil soup, where they add a haunting, mysterious extra flavor.

  • I love this – I mean, I usually just make deep fried basil flowers, but this looks… less heartbreakerish?

    I tried making blackberry vinegar over the summer but forgot about it after a few days. The following week I had to throw it out!

  • This is a lovely idea, except that I am one of those long-suffering folks with an aversion to all things vinegar (pickles, kimchi, you name it). Therefore, I am wondering if oil might preserve the flowers instead? I imagine yes.

    Basil flowers are always a bad sign to me — neglect in the garden! I’ve let my plants go bitter! This will be a nice way to use up some of the flowers.

    I keep my herbs in small pots, so I can bring them inside when it gets colder and keep them going throughout the year. This usually works marvelously with the rosemary and basil, who turn to wooden stems overtime. I typically kill the thyme and sage with over-watering before they get very far.

  • I’m planning on pulling all my basil plants out this week – glad I saw this first! I will have to put the flowers to good use.

  • This is so gorgeous!

  • Rita Boring

    I never thought about deep frying the blooms from the basil nor using it in vinegars…my husband loves deep fried basil especially with burgers and meat…love those herbs!!

  • oooh how gorgeous! I love the idea of savoring the flavors of my summer long after the season is gone.

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  • Larissa

    Does this need to stay in the fridge after it’s been steeped and the flowers have been removed? Or can it sit on a shelf in the pantry like the vinegar can?

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