Tag Archives: thyme

Herbal Vinegar Basics

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

Tarragon or other herb flavored vinegars are easy and inexpensive to make and provide a simple, appetizing way to add flavor to salad dressings, marinades, and every day meals. Tasty, distinctive, flavored vinegars can also be added to roasted vegetables, drizzled over fish, splashed into a soup, stew or stir-fry for added flavor, or to baste chicken while it bakes.

The process requires few ingredients, basic equipment, and very little time. Homemade vinegars make a special and unique gift for any occasion. If you don’t have tarragon, try basil, Rosemary, thyme, dill, sage or parsley in an herbal vinegar.  Or try several different versions.

Fill jar with fresh herbs

Fill jar with fresh herbs


  • 1-2 cups of French tarragon leaves, fresh and loosely packed – more herbs, more flavor
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, optional

(Additional herb sprig for decoration when bottling)


1. Wash tarragon (or herbs) the night before, if needed, so herbs, freshly harvested in the morning, will maintain maximum flavor. Gather herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried. Bruise tarragon or herbs with the back of a chef knife, with a mortar and pestle or crumple herbs by hand to release maximum flavor.
2. Fill a dry sterilized  jar with tarragon or herbs of choice. (A quick run through the dishwasher
herbal+vinegars3. Pack a one quart jar with the herbs and pour the vinegar over the herbs. Cover the container with a plastic lid and leave for 2—3 weeks. This will draw out the flavor of the tarragon into the vinegar.  (Two-piece lids will work, but be aware vinegar will react with the metal screw bands)
4. Line a fine wire-mesh strainer with a paper coffee filter or cheese cloth. Pour vinegar mixture through the strainer into a large measuring cup, discarding the herbs.
5. Fill dry, attractive sterilized glass bottles with a fresh herb sprig, and add strained vinegar. Tightly seal the bottles with nonmetallic lids or corks; store the herbal vinegar in a cool dark place.

Dress fresh salad greens with herbal vinaigraitte

Dress fresh salad greens with vinaigrette



3 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 1 tbsp. dried, crumbled

In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, salt, and pepper; add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the vinaigrette until it is emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Options for Pairing Vinegars and Herbs

White wine vinegar goes well with many herbs and is perfect for herbs or flower petals that produce color. Dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, mints, and lemon balm are well-suited to white wine vinegar.

Red wine vinegar adds a rich flavor and pairs well with sage, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.

Be creative:  mix and match herbs and garlic according to taste!

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Beef Burgundy

The flavor will be vastly enhanced if you make this the day before serving.

The flavor will be vastly enhanced if you make this the day before serving.

Here is a elegant, crowd-pleasing company main dish recipe that I make each December sometime before Christmas. It’s a tradition!

Make a large batch, and store the leftovers (if there is any) in meal sized portions to pull out of the freezer in January or February for those nights when you don’t know what else to cook.

This winning recipe will soon become part of your family’s favorite keeper recipe file. Like any soup or stew, the flavor vastly improves if the stew is stored overnight in the refrigerator before re-heating.


2 Tbsp. oil or butter
18 small white onions, peeled (or frozen) or just use 1-2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 T flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1-2 C. Burgundy or other dry red cooking wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 Cup beef stock
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 T. chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme or more
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
2 T. butter

Lightly brown the onions in the oil and remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Pat meat dry between paper towels and brown it on all sides in the same pot without crowding. You may have to do it in batches. Sprinkle browned meat with flour, salt, and pepper. Add wine, garlic, stock, tomato sauce and herbs. Over heat bring the mixture to a simmer and then cook it, tightly covered for two or more hours or until the meat is fork tender. Add the pearl onions after one hour. If using chopped onion, just let them cook with the beef and stock.

Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and trim off stem ends. Quarter mushrooms if large, leave small ones whole. Heat the butter and remaining oil or butter in a large skillet and lightly saute the mushrooms for about 4 minutes and set aside.

When done, skim off any fat and add the mushrooms. Voila! Beef burgundy! After cooling, it can be refrigerated or frozen at this point. If the sauce is too thin, combine 2 TB flour with 1/2 Cup water and whisk the mixture into boiling beef burgundy. Serve over noodles or brown rice.


Seed Starting Hurdles

Plant tender plants such as squash, basil, and zinnias after the overnight temperatures are 50-55 degrees

Plant tender plants such as squash, basil, and zinnias after the overnight temperatures are 50-55 degrees

We appreciate hearing from anyone who has a problem with their garden, but early in the season we know that when “my peas and lettuce are up fine, but the cucumber seeds must be bad because they didn’t germinate,” it’s a good indication that the outdoor night garden temperatures are simply too cool for the heat loving seeds like cucumbers.

Especially this past cool, moist May in Colorado, avid gardeners must be strong and resist the temptation to sow seeds of heat loving varieties of seeds into your garden until the soil has warmed up and spring weather conditions have warmed and settled with outdoor night temperatures consistently in the 50-55° F (10-13° C)  range.  In our area that will probably be sometime next week.

Be confident that seeds planted directly into the garden when conditions are warm enough will catch up and surpass stressed seedlings that were planted too early. Don’t be fooled by a long warm weekend – wait until the weather has truly warmed up for several days in a row.

When temperatures are warm enough, seeds will germinate quickly and won’t languish or risk rotting in the soil waiting to emerge. Fast growing plants that don’t get set back by cold weather are less likely have disease problems and will grow past insect or bird damage much easier than seedlings stunted by difficult beginnings.

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden

Basil will succeed best when started in the garden

This includes sowing seeds for summer flower favorites like zinnias, sunflowers, morning glories marigolds, nasturtiams and cosmos.  It’s best to direct sow your favorite heat loving herbs like basils, parsley, oregano and thyme, and all the many fruiting summer vegetables including cucumbers, pole and bush beans, summer and winter squashes, corn, melons, wqtermelons, and pumpkins.

The larger seeds started in indoor seed starting trays really don’t have enough space for root growth and will do better when planted directly into the soil.
The only exceptions would be plants such as

Ripe and ripening sweet 100' on the vine

Ripe and ripening sweet 100′ on the vine

tomatoes and peppers that won’t have enough time to mature to fruit unless started indoors.