There are a lot of random things I put up just because they sounded cool, without really having a plan for how we would actually use them. The rose petal jelly, for instance – it’s too strong for us to just eat on toast, though the flavor is lovely. Last year, I put up a ton of things in alcohol (vodka and rum) and vinegar, since it was such a simple way to preserve things. The alcohol is pretty easy to use up (though, of course, I can’t until after baby comes), but the flavored vinegars are a bit more of a challenge.
I made vinegars in a variety of flavors, including raspberry, saskatoon (serviceberry), basil, blueberry, and rose. My favorite of the vinegars is the blueberry. We filled pint jars with loosely packed berries or herbs as they came into season, then poured white wine vinegar over them, and left them soak through the winter. The raspberry has a nice flavor, but the blueberry has a nicer color, and the taste is more exotic, somehow. I have taken to making a salad dressing out of it, which is just stellar on spinach salads (particularly spinach salad which includes fruit, like grapes, strawberries, or mandarin oranges).
Unfortunately, I am not the sort of cook who carefully follows recipes (if I even begin with a recipe; mostly, I don’t), nor am I much good at measuring out what I am doing. Since vinaigrette is really mostly to taste anyhow, this shouldn’t be an issue, even if you prefer clear-cut recipes; just start with a small amount of whatever ingredient, and taste as you go until it seems right to you.
For the blueberry vinaigrette, I start a couple of days in advance, by soaking coarsely ground black pepper in the blueberry vinegar (with the blueberries strained out). I would use maybe a teaspoon or two to a pint of vinegar. Starting a bit in advance allows the flavors to mingle better, though it is not strictly necessary. Then, I add a bit of salt (a quarter teaspoon? Half?) and some sugar to balance the acidity (probably a couple teaspoons of sugar, but again, it depends on what tastes good to you). Right at serving time, I pour the seasoned blueberry vinegar and some olive oil in a jar, at a ration of about half and half, and shake well just before pouring on the salad.
Our usual spinach salad is pretty simple – spinach, some chopped cucumber and maybe red or yellow peppers, and some sliced strawberries or grapes. Sometimes, I also add canned mandarin oranges, and also pine nuts, if I happen to have them. The blueberry vinaigrette sets off the sweet/savory of this salad very well.