I find the history of gathering and drying herbs, spices and roots, and distilling tisanes and remedies fascinating. In my own way I carry on the ancient craft by growing and drying herbs for use throughout the winter. This time of year the pantry shelves are full of savory vinegars, fragrant vanilla extract, and a variety of liqueurs for Christmas cooking, enjoying and gift giving. Maybe it traces back through the mists of time, but there is a sense of peace that comes when pantry shelves are full of things gathered under a warm sun and preserved for gray, cold days. A bottle of Cranberry Vinegar makes a nice hostess gift or are nice to have on hand for when visitors stop in. You still have time before Christmas!
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
3 cups white wine vinegar
1 bottle sparkling wine - red or white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 or 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Sanitize 3 1-quart canning jars and lids in a large pot of boiling water (about 5 minutes) and drain on a clean towel. You don’t have to boil the rings. Rinse and drain cranberries, picking out any spoiled berries.
In a large pot, combine cranberries, vinegar, sugar and wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and divide evenly between jar and add 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks per jar. Attach lids and rings, allow to cool, then store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks.
If using for gift giving, after the steeping period, drain vinegar from berries and cinnamon sticks and decant into decorative bottles. Add a fresh cinnamon stick, if desired. Will keep unrefrigerated for at least 4 months. Use as a base for vinaigrettes and marinades.