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Fennel, Orange & Star Anise Vinegar
EatingWell Test Kitchen
“Try this vinegar infused with fennel, orange and star anise in Asian-inspired dishes. Combine with soy sauce, chopped scallions, ginger and a pinch of sugar and use it as a sauce for a chicken-broccoli stir-fry. Or try it drizzled over hot-and-sour soup. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.”
6 cups distilled white vinegar
9 fronds from 1 fennel bulb
3 strips zest from 1 medium orange (see Tips)
9 whole star anise (see Tips)
Additional fresh herbs for decoration (optional)
1Wash 3 pint-size (2-cup) heatproof glass canning jars (or similar containers) and their lids with hot soapy water. Rinse well with hot water. Fill a large, deep pot (such as a water bath canner) about half full with water. Place the jars upright into the pot; add enough additional water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil; boil jars for 10 minutes. Add the lids to the pot, and then remove the pot from the heat. Let the jars and lids stay in the hot water as you prepare the flavoring and vinegar. (Keeping the jars warm minimizes breakage when filling with hot liquid.)
2Thoroughly rinse fennel fronds, orange zest and star anise with water. Remove the jars from the water bath with a jar lifter or tongs. Divide the flavorings among the jars. Heat vinegar in a large saucepan to a bare simmer (at least 190°F). Carefully divide the vinegar among the prepared jars, leaving at least ¼-inch space between the top of the jar and the vinegar. Remove lids from the water bath, dry with a clean towel and screw tightly onto the jars.
3Store the jars in a cool, dark place, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain vinegar through cheesecloth into another container. Repeat as needed until all the sediment is removed and the vinegar is clear. Discard all solids and pour the strained vinegar back into rinsed jars or divide among sterilized decorative bottles. Decorate with a few well-rinsed fennel fronds, strips of zest and/or star anise, if desired.
Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate the vinegar for up to 1 year.
Tips: To remove citrus zest: Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of the outer skin (zest), leaving the bitter white pith behind.
Star anise (named for its star-shaped pods) lends a distinctive licorice-like flavor to numerous Asian dishes. The pods come from a small evergreen tree that is native to China. Look for star-anise in the bulk spice sections of natural-foods stores, in Asian markets or online at penzeys.com.