Purple basil is a lovely thing: a deep, dark, almost black purple, with that familiar basil flavor & aroma, but just slightly mellower; a little sweeter, a little less grassy, perhaps just a touch more refined. Dare I say regal? Must be the purple. Whenever I get some, I feel I must do something special with it, not just toss it into salads, bruschetta, pasta or pesto like most of the green basil that comes my way.
Are you still getting any basil? When I was up in Maine a couple of weeks ago, Tai’s Aunt Sue still had some flourishing in her garden, but I haven’t seen any around my neighborhood for a while now. Regardless, this was a basil year: the hot & plentiful sunshine grew huge, fat, glossy plants, and I’ve got the pesto & basilsicles to prove it. But the other thing I’ve got is this basil vinegar: the easiest preserving you’ll ever do. Simply dump the bunch of basil directly into vinegar; cap it and walk away. Every now & then, when you think of it, give it a shake. Then, in what seems like a 100 years later, but turns out to only be 6 weeks, strain it into some pretty bottles, or Mason jars, or a repurposed wine bottle. Glory at the color, the fragrance, the taste. Become a salad person just so you can make Purple Basil Vinaigrette. Plan whole meals around basil vinegar. Pat yourself on the back: you are now a Preserver.
For another take on basil vinegar, check out Blueberry-Basil Vinegar.
- 1 bunch purple basil, washed
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Rinse basil, stems and all, and shake off excess water. Add to vinegar in a quart jar, tupperware, or bowl with a cover (avoid metal). Let sit, shaking once every couple of days or so, for 4 – 6 weeks to allow the basil flavor to infuse the vinegar. Taste, and when the vinegar tastes good to you, strain the basil through a jelly bag or colander lined with cheesecloth. Funnel the vinegar into lovely, sterilized bottles, label and store (you can water-bath can this into jars if you like, but I think it is overkill. It is vinegar, after all).
Yields about 2 and 3/4 cups vinegar.
- It helps to use a vinegar that you like the taste of, initially (I would have used 3 cups of white wine vinegar had I not run out, but the resulting basil vinegar was quite tasty). Red wine vinegar would give an interesting flavor, I think, but would obscure the beautiful color of the purple basil. Homemade vinegar, infused with homegrown basil, would make an especially wonderful gift.
- This works fine with frozen basil as well (although it might get a bit mushy and need careful straining at the end), in case, in the height of August, you stuffed an entire sack of basil into the freezer because you couldn’t muster the engery for one more batch of pesto. Not that I would ever do such a thing.
- Green basil, of course, works just as well, as do many other herbs. It’s a great way to finish out the herb garden and have some interesting vinegars to cook with over the coming year.
At cool room temperature, preferably protected from light, indefinitely.
Summer into early Fall.