Dixie Anderson and Tami Feulner, nicknamed “The Vinegar Ladies,” faced a similar dilemma in 1996 when they were asked to lead a Homemaking activity for their ward. Having recently tried a neighbor’s chive vinegar, these best friends created distinctly flavored vinegars and later demonstrated the process to their Relief Society.
Before long, the Vinegar Ladies created what are known as The Fabulous Five: Provencal, Hot Pepper, Garden Blend, Tangy Citrus, and Lemon Dill vinegars. With these staple concoctions in hand, Dixie and Tami met with a local merchant, who agreed to put the vinegars on the market. Additionally, he asked the women to give classes on how to cook with their flavored vinegars.
Soon, these stay-at-home moms found themselves handling a full schedule of classes, as well as managing business hours within their own homes. Trucks pulled in and out of the driveways each day, lugging away gallons of vinegar. During one Christmas season, Dixie and Tami (with the help of twelve recruited friends, known as the “Vinaigrettes”) held the Vinegar Affair, a vinegar exhibition with approximately one thousand vinegar-addicts mingling among bottles and fruit cases. After that, affairs were held every six months.
Now, ten years later, the Vinegar Ladies have taught over eight hundred classes on creating their famous vinegars and using them in everyday recipes. They recently came out with a recipe book called Kitchen Secrets of the Vinegar Ladies (Silverleaf Press, Independent Publishers Group). The book includes basic recipes for The Fabulous Five, tips on preparing vinegar, and over one hundred recipes that integrate their flavored vinegars. Whether you’re making salsa, potato salad, Chicken Penne Pasta, or Apple Pumpkin Cake, Dixie and Tami’s vinegars will spice up your meals.
Now, Your Turn
Don’t be afraid to try something new. The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients can be found in local supermarkets. You may find a new hobby in vinegar-making, plus, the vinegars add flavor to your home-cooked meals. Unlike many of the decorative vinegars that are popular today, the vinegars made from these recipes are edible and attractive.
If you’re interested in making flavored vinegars for your upcoming Enrichment activity, here are a few ideas and tips that might make the process easier for you and your Relief Society.
In preparation for the activity, purchase the following base vinegars by the gallon: Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Seasoned Rice Vinegar. Each recipe calls for a 17-ounce bottle; the shape of the bottle doesn’t matter, just as long as it is washed thoroughly. Try to find bottles that can be corked securely. You can find corks at most hardware and craft stores and shrink-wrap seals can be purchased over the Internet.
The step that takes the most time is dehydrating fruit. Here are a few tips that may help you out:
- Wash the fruit thoroughly.
- Slice the fruit, preferably with an electric or manual slicer. The fruit slices should be about 1/8 inch thick, thin enough to fit into the bottles but thick enough to stay intact.
- Buy or borrow an electric food dehydrator that blows warm air. Let the fruit dehydrate for about thirty minutes, but stick around because time varies for different types of fruit. For example, apples take a little longer than most fruit. You need to be able to roll the fruit to fit into the bottle without breaking the rind. You know you’ve gone too far if the fruit is hard and brittle. Once you’ve reached the right pliability, place the fruit in a Ziploc bag.
For the activity, you should make the basic vinegars ahead of time. Prepare ingredients for the following recipes, which can be easily made during the event. Divide the group into five stations, at which each of the vinegars are made and displayed. Provide recipes for the group and foods that have been prepared with the flavored vinegars.
The Fabulous Five
Garden Blend Vinegar—use this for vinaigrettes, vegetable marinades, potato salads, and veggie dips.
16 oz. (455g) white wine vinegar
2 or 3 long, thin slices of carrot
1 asparagus spear
1 long, thin slice of celery
2 pea pods
2 green beans
1 long thin slice of green pepper
1 long thin slice of red pepper
2 gloves garlic (peeled)
1 sprig parsley
2 green olives
2 tsp whole peppercorns
Place all ingredients in your bottle; longer items should go first. This will allow the small items to fill the empty spaces. Pour vinegar in to fill. Cork tightly and let infuse for approximately 10 days before using. Makes 1 bottle.
Tangy Citrus Vinegar—use this to baste poultry or as a substitute for lemon juice
2 pink grapefruit slices (thin)
4 lemon slices (thin)
4 lime slices (thin)
3 orange slices (thin)
16 oz. (455g) white wine vinegar
Follow the instructions above to slightly dehydrate the citrus slices. After you have prepared the citrus, start gently rolling the fruit (like a crepe) into the bottle. Be sure not to push too hard and break up the meat of the citrus. Also, make sure you vary the colors of your citrus as you insert them into the bottle. Once they are in, it is very hard to change their positions. Pour vinegar over the fruit. Cork tightly. Allow 10 days for full infusion of flavor. Makes 1 bottle.
Lemon Dill Vinegar—wonderful vinegar for fish and as a chicken marinade.
16 oz. (455g) white wine vinegar
4–5 sprigs fresh dill weed (gently rinsed)
5 lemon slices (partially dehydrated)
2–3 cloves fresh garlic (peeled)
Once lemon slices are prepared, place in bottle interspersed with dill weed and garlic cloves. Pour vinegar over the ingredients and cork tightly. Allow vinegar to sit for approximately 10 days before using. Makes 1 bottle.
Using the Vinegars
Here are a few recipes that put the various vinegars to work.
Crunchy Chicken Salad
4 chicken breasts (cooked, diced and chilled)
1 cup celery (diced)
2 tsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)
4 hard boiled eggs (diced)
2 cups red seedless grapes (halved)
½ cup salted almonds (slivered)
2/3 cup Garden Blend Vinegar (see above)
2/3 cup Miracle Whip
salt and pepper to taste
Combine chicken and celery in a large bowl. Sprinkle vinegar over mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Fold parsley, salt, pepper, Miracle Whip, grapes, almonds and eggs gently into chicken mixture. Chill well and server. Serves 6.
Creamy Dilled Salmon
1 large fillet of salmon
1/3 cup Lemon Dill Vinegar (see above)
1 lemon (sliced)
1 tsp dried dill weed
mayonnaise (enough to spread a light coat on top of salmon fillet)
lemon pepper to taste
Place your fillet of salmon in a shallow baking dish lined with tinfoil. (Be sure to spray your tinfoil lightly with Pam before placing salmon on it.) Drizzle vinegar over the fillet. Spread a light layer of mayonnaise over the entire fillet. Sprinkle lemon pepper and dill weed over the mayonnaise. Arrange the lemon slices on top. Cover with tinfoil. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes or until salmon is no longer translucent. Serve hot. This recipe is very easy to adapt to large or small dinner parties. For a great summer dinner, try this one on the grill. Just double up the tinfoil—no pan necessary!
Lemon Pound Cake
1 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp Tangy Citrus Vinegar (see above)
¼ tsp soda
3 cups flour (unsifted)
1 cup sour cream
4 tbsp lemon or orange juice
¼ cup sugar
Beat together butter, 3 cups sugar, lemon and almond extract, and vinegar. When well mixed, add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Stir soda into flour and add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to the cream mixture, mixing just until well combined. Spoon batter into well-greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan or tube pan. Bake at 325° F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan about 15 minutes, then turn onto a dinner plate. Mix remaining ¼ cup sugar, and 4 Tbs. juice in a small bowl and drizzle over the warm cake. Allow a few moments for the excess topping to be absorbed into the underside of the cake. Then wrap cake up tightly in plastic wrap. Best if made the day before serving. When ready to eat, unwrap and serve.