Making flavored vinegar at home is easy and much less expensive than buying it in a fancy store.
If you have vanilla beans that you've washed, dried and saved for another use, this is a great way to use them — but because some of their flavor will have been lost in the previous use, you'll need to add several pods to the vinegar to achieve the best flavor intensity. This recipe makes about 2 cups (about 32 tablespoons).
Vanilla vinegar has a delicate flavor and aroma; it's best combined with mild olive or nut oils. For interesting recipes that use vanilla vinegar, check out our Shrimp and Arugula Salad or Mâche Salad with Figs and Bacon.
Combine the vinegar and the vanilla bean in a small, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the mixture steep until cool.
Pour the vinegar into a clean bottle and add the bean(s), making sure it's immersed completely in the vinegar. If the bean is too long, cut it with scissors into shorter lengths.
Cap the bottle and store for up to 3 months at room temperature.