Herbal Vinegar & Oil, June 29
On June 29, The Food Connection hosted flavoured herbal vinegar and oil making workshop. This evening was my first Food Connection event. I brought my partner’s mother, Deasy, who is visiting from Indonesia.
Right from the beginning we noticed the welcoming Food Connection environment. It’s always a bit intimidating to go to a group where you know no one. Soon after entering the room at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, our nerves were put at ease. This warm environment was not limited to the organizers; by the end of the event I feel like we had genuine conversations with nearly everyone in the room.
After we each shared our names and our favourite herbs, we shared in a delicious potluck dinner. Participants brought a selection of fresh salads, hearty grain dishes and stirfries, yummy baked goods and juicy local blueberries. What a feast!
For the workshop, we gathered around tables that overflowed with fresh and dried herbs. We had many flavour options to choose from because participants had brought rosemary, thyme, mint, chives, lemon balm, parsley and more from their gardens! Joey presented the basic concepts of making herbal vinegars and oils, and then let us experiment to create our own blends.
The main takeaway for us was that vinegars are less fussy that oils when it comes to preparation and food safety. For flavoured vinegar you can add any kind of fresh or dried herb. Just cover the herbs with white wine or apple cider vinegar, and let sit in a cool place for 2 weeks before using.
Flavoured oils also need to sit for 2 weeks, but it’s important to not add wet herbs because that can make it easier for nasty bugs- like botulism- to grow. We learned to use dried herbs or to heat up the oil if using fresh herbs, so that our flavoured oil will be safe to use.
It was fun to get to know everyone while we worked together to make our herbal creations. We discussed the different herbs and talked about our own experiences with using them in cooking. I also learned about the difference process between making herbal vinegars for cooking and making more medicinal herbal tinctures.
Deasy really appreciated how the organizers took their time to host a workshop that was free for participants. She had never been to a neighbourhood house before, and said that community centres and programs like this are not available where she lives. She also loved the blueberry banana cake at the potluck!
I was deeply grateful for the welcoming environment. I recently moved back to Vancouver, and had been searching for a sense of community. I definitely felt that sense of connection at The Food Connection and look forward to the potluck next month.
We both enjoyed making the flavoured vinegars and oils. We brought home sage oil for potatoes, as well as oregano and chive vinegar to use for greek salad this summer. I’m looking forward to trying them out in a few weeks!