Adventures with the Aerogarden: Herbal Vinegar

If you don’t know what an AeroGarden is, it’s a pretty damn cool little contraption. It’s an indoor hydroponic gardening kit. And I know what you are thinking when you think of hydro. Dirty hippie.

My house is old, and drafty. Although I have a big window on the south side of the house, herbs and indoor plants don’t grow well for me. Except Pothos. Also known as mother in laws tongue. That grows great. But I have that sitting in a pot of water so that’s probably why. And it needs next to no light.

I got totally tired of watching my little plantings die. Something about this house is cursed with plants. Not outside, no, just inside. So the Aero Garden was a little tool I always wanted. Gadget. I know.

When Mr. B came home with one he’d gotten for Christmas, I knew it’d be my responsibility. He’ll eat what I grow in it, but he’s not gonna take care of it either. That’s ok. I’d be more than happy to take over.

I decided to grow herbs first. Herbs because I want to get started making herbal vinegars for Christmas next year. The longer they brew, the stronger they are. They make wonderful everything’s from marinades and additions to salsa to facial and hair rinses.

So I started the little pods up on Christmas day. Herbs are one of those things you need to use as they grow. If you let them get TOO big they’ll die, they go to seed. Pick too much of them and they’ll die. Usually you want to take no more than a third of the plant.

I noticed my Lemon Basil was going to town. I’ll only be able to take a few leaves because the plant is still young, but I can start the vinegar and just keep adding fresh plant matter as I go along. These things don’t take long to replace what you’ve taken.

So, here it is. My little pride Lemon Basil.

She’s getting to be a big girl!

I picked off a few leaves. Mature ones. Remember, never more than 1/3 of the plant. I put these in an 8 oz jelly jar for now. I’ll increase the size of the jar as more leaves are added.

I covered it with some white vinegar. You can use high quality rice and champagne vinegars if you want, but for me, white vinegar is old faithful. It marinades beautifully.

Cap it with a NON METAL cap. That means either using the plastic freeze caps Ball has for their jars OR putting some plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar THEN putting on the 2 piece band and lid. You don’t want vinegar touching metal. Metal+vinegar=corrosion. You don’t want to eat that.

Now, it’s time to label it. You can date it if you want, I don’t, because I’m going to keep adding to it. I found dissolvable labels at Menards for canning jars.  You’ve NO idea how wonderful a thing these are going to be for me. Getting labels off jars is a serious pain in the ass that requires, most of the time, that you boil them off. Urg!

The only issue I’ve got with these is that they are kind of flimsy. They also come in a roll, making writing on them BEFORE you put them on the jar impossible. They are also a weird material, so when I used a sharpie marker on it, it kind of bled. Not very pretty. Next time I’ll use pen.

Lemon basil vinegar is going to make an awesome marinade for fish and chicken. Hmmmm.

Just shake it once a day or every other day, store it somewhere cool, dry and dark, and keep adding as you keep getting more, until about half the jar is full. Keep in mind the basil will kind of wilt as it goes along, so use your best judgement as to how much is in there. You don’t want it so strong it’s going to overpower the food. Once I think I’ve got enough lemon basil vinegar to satisfy gifts and needs, the rest will get dried and crushed and stored as a spice.

So, if you’ve got indoor plants or an aerogarden collecting dust (I’ll BUY IT FROM YA IF YOU DO! I want several of these things!!!), this is a great way to make it work for you. Plus knock out some christmas gifts and tasty meals in the process.

See, I’m NOT anal. There really IS a use for everything!

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