Gather the tarragon just before it blossoms, which will be late in July, or early in August; strip it from the larger stalks, and put it into small stone jars or wide-necked bottles, and in doing this twist some of the branches so as to bruise the leaves and wring them asunder; then pour in sufficient distilled or very pale vinegar to cover the tarragon; let it infuse for two months, or more: it will take no harm even by standing all the winter. When it is poured off, strain it very clear, put it into small dry bottles, and cork them well. Sweet basil vinegar is made in exactly the same way, but it should not be left on the leaves more than three weeks. The jars or bottles should be filled to the neck with the tarragon before the vinegar is added: its flavour is strong and peculiar, but to many tastes very agreeable. It imparts quite a foreign character to the dishes for which it is used.
Pick and slightly chop, or bruise, freshly-gathered mint, and put it into bottles; fill them nearly to the necks, and add vinegar as for tarragon: in forty days, strain it off, and bottle it for use.
The mint itself, ready minced for sauce, will keep well in vinegar though the colour will not be very good.
First wipe, and then, without paring, slice into a jar some young and quickly-grown cucumbers; pour on them as much boiling vinegar as will cover them well, with a teaspoonful of salt and two-thirds as much of peppercorns to the pint and a half of vinegar: it may remain on them for a month, or even for two, if well defended from the air. A mild onion can be intermixed with the cucumbers, when its flavour is considered an improvement.
Put into a wide-necked bottle or pickle-jar eight ounces of the white part of the root and stalks of fine fresh celery cut into slices, and pour on it a pint of boiling vinegar; when a little cool, cork it down, and in three weeks it will be ready to strain, and to bottle for keeping. Half an ounce of bruised celery-seed will answer the same purpose, when the root cannot be obtained. This is an agreeable addition to a salad, when its flavour is much liked: a half-teaspoonful of salt should be boiled in it.
On from four to six ounces of eschalots, or on two of garlic, peeled and bruised, pour a quart of the best vinegar; stop the jar or bottle close, and in a fortnight or three weeks the vinegar may be strained off for use: a few drops will give a sufficient flavour to a sauce, or to a tureen of gravy.
Eschalots, 4 to 6 ozs.; or, garlic, 2 to 4 ozs.; vinegar, 1 quart: 15 to 21 days.
These roots may be used in smaller or in larger proportion, as a slighter or a stronger flavour of them is desired, and may remain longer in the vinegar without any detriment to it
This is a far more useful preparation even than the preceding one, since it can be used to impart the flavour of the eschalot to dishes for which acid is not required. Peel and slice, or bruise, four ounces of eschalots, put them into a bottle, and add to them a pint of sherry; in a fortnight pour off the wine, and should it not be strongly flavoured with the eschalots, steep in it two ounces more, for another fortnight; a half-teaspoonful of cayenne may be added at first. The bottle should be shaken occasionally, while the eschalots are infusing, but should remain undisturbed for the last two or three days, that the wine may be clear when it is poured off to bottle for keeping. Sweet-basil wine is made by steeping the fresh leaves of the herb in wine, from ten to fifteen days. Eschalots, 4 ozs.; sherry 1 pint: 15 days, or more.
On four ounces of young and freshly-scraped horseradish pour a quart of boiling vinegar, and cover it down closely: it will be ready for use in three or four days, but may remain for weeks, or months, before the vinegar is poured off. An ounce of minced eschalot may be substituted for one of the horseradish, if the flavour be liked.
Put from a quarter to half an ounce of the best cayenne pepper into a bottle, and pour on it a pint of pale vinegar. Cork it closely, and shake it well every two or three days. It may remain any length of time before it is poured off, but will very soon be ready for use. From being so extremely pungent, it is, for some purposes, preferable to Chili vinegar, as the cayenne seasoning can be given with less of acid. It may be made of any degree of strength. We warn the young housekeeper against using essence of cayenne (or cayenne steeped in brandy) for flavouring any dishes, as the brandy is very perceptible always, and gives an exceedingly coarse taste.
Good cayenne pepper, 1/4 to 1/2 oz.; vinegar, 1 pint: infuse from 2 weeks to 12 months.