Using Peppers and Herbs in Vinegar

Using Peppers and Herbs in Vinegar

Part of Ep. 1403 Hot Plants

In Neenah, visit Colleen's Tough Times Vinegars to explore peppers beyond the conventional use. Find out how to create flavored vinegars using peppers, herbs and even fruit.

Premiere date: Aug 30, 2006

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Peppers can be used in a wide variety of ways, including vinegar. We're going to learn how to use peppers, fruits and herbs in vinegars. We're at Colleen's Tough Times Vinegar Factory in Neenah. I'm assuming you must be Colleen.

Bob:
Actually Shelley, I'm Mr. Colleen. Sometimes they call me Colleen, but actually I'm Bob.

Shelley:
Then who and where is Colleen?

Bob:
Colleen is my wife, and she teaches full time. She's in Fond du Lac right now teaching.

Shelley:
She invented Colleen's Tough Time Vinegars?

Bob:
She started the vinegars 15 years ago. I got in kicking and screaming and now I do it full time, I love it. It's a great occupation.

Shelley:
So in a way, you really are Colleen?

Bob:
I guess so, Mr. Colleen.

Shelley:
I know that you have a wide variety of vinegars and I've seen them all over the Wisconsin. You have some unusual ones, too, some very different ones.

Bob:
My favorite is the Cranberry Honey Vinegar.

Shelley:
That's beautiful.

Bob:
Thank you, dear. I use Wisconsin cranberries, Wisconsin honey real apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, I have to use California oranges.

Shelley:
Wait until global warming! I can see that sitting somewhere, too. You have honey vinegars and the other line you have are...

Bob:
Wine vinegars. I add red wine to this. This is a rosemary, basil and garlic.

Shelley:
And it's a wine vinegar?

Bob:
No, I add red wine to the vinegars. We control the flavor that way.

Shelley:
So you're flavoring the vinegar with a good wine.

Bob:
With a good wine, yes.

Shelley:
Interesting.

Bob:
We use a good California wine.

Shelley:
You've said that these are easy for me to make at home. So, show me. Let's play.

Bob:
The one I like to make is a spiced honey vinegar using your chilies.

Shelley:
Oh, is that beautiful, too.

Bob:
When I do this, some people like to count out their chilies but you can just pack them in there if you want to.

Shelley:
These are dried, what kind of chilies?

Bob:
The Chinese Chili.

Shelley:
Why are you touching them?

Bob:
People have to understand that after they use them they have to wash their hands very carefully. Add the garlic also.

Shelley:
Okay and you just pop it in. Isn't garlic a problem if I'm making a flavored oil?

Bob:
Yes, you can create botulism, if it's not done properly.

Shelley:
But vinegar's not an issue?

Bob:
Vinegar's potentially not a hazardous liquid. So then, I add different-- I add ginger also.

Shelley:
This is dried ginger. Wow. How would you use a vinegar like this? This is a very unusual combination.

Bob:
The spiced honey, I like to marinate chicken or shrimp. I also like to add it to baked beans.

Shelley:
Oh, really?

Bob:
It's good right over baked beans.

Shelley:
So a vinegar like this actually enhances the flavor.

Bob:
It brings out the other ingredients and flavors.

Shelley:
Now you're adding something that looks darker than normal vinegar.

Bob:
This is a blend of honey and vinegar. A customer asked me to make a honey vinegar many years ago so we started making honey vinegars.

Shelley:
And the rest is history.

Bob:
If people want to do this at home they have to heat up their honey and vinegars before they will blend.

Shelley:
Because the honey's too thick. Now you would normally add more of this.

Bob:
I would add more ingredients to this but for now, we're just going to have this.

Shelley:
I have to something with this in the dark now.

Bob:
Because it's honey and vinegar you have to let it sit between three and four months. Any vinegar that we add wine to.

Shelley:
So honey vinegar is three to four months. What about a wine vinegar then?

Bob:
If we make the rosemary and basil vinegar here, sometimes people call rosemary little Christmas trees.

Shelley:
Which they look like, yes, and some fresh basil. Again, we could harvest from our own back yard.
Bob:
You can grow it in your back yard and use your own.

Shelley:
My favorite part.

Bob:
We add the garlic. Then we'll add the vinegar. We'll also add another container of red wine.

Shelley:
Oh, okay. Pick a red wine that you like the flavor of.

Bob:
Right, and you can experiment with how much wine you like to add to it. We're not set, we come up with our own recipes.

Shelley:
So, again, people at home, just go and play with it.

Bob:
Enjoy it.

Shelley:
Now would this have to sit as the honey vinegars?

Bob:
No, we found that it takes between three and four weeks for any vinegar that we add wine to.

Shelley:
Honey vinegar is three to four months. Wine vinegar is three to four weeks. You have some unusual ways to use some of these vinegars.

Bob:
Well, rosemary, basil, we like to use on pastas. People have never thought about using vinegar on pasta but we have a good recipe for pasta with this. Also, besides pork chops, pork roasts and salads, I like to make a caramelized candy.

Shelley:
Ooh, sounds good.

Bob:
I cut up garlic and put this in the frying pan. Put the sliced garlic in there and burn of the vinegar. The honey stays and caramelizes the garlic. You just eat it like candy.

Shelley:
That sounds perfect for me.

Bob:
It is!

Shelley:
For beginners, how do you recommend people taste vinegars to learn how to use them for other than salads?

Bob:
We have cheese that you can use to taste and we also have bread.

Shelley:
So, just pop it in and learn the flavors. We're going to have several of your recipes on our Web site. Bob, thank you very much.

Bob:
Thank you Shelley.

Shelley:
That's good, just like that.

Bob:
It is, just on bread, and also with cheese, too. You can marinate cheese with our vinegars.

Shelley:
Thank you.

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