Oxymel. A mix of vinegar and honey. One doesn’t need to believe it to be the cure-all tonic the ancient Greeks and Romans believed it to be in order to enjoy it. It’s conducive to infusions that can range from fruity to herbaceous, it’s quite simple to make, and has a variety of applications even making its way into the cocktail culture.
The base is straightforward. Equal parts vinegar and honey by volume. In other words half acid, half sugar. From here it can get more complicated with lots of variations infusing different herbs and spices but the underlying ratio of acid to sugar remains the same. For this specific recipe, we prepared an Oleo Saccharum and reduced the subsequent amount of honey by the weight of sugar. We don’t like to waste goodness so also we reduced the amount of vinegar by the amount of juice we could squeeze out of the lemons peeled, maintaining the 1:1 sugar to acid ratio. If you want to experiment further, 15g (1/2oz) of Turmeric Root slices or a teaspoon of Peppercorns are a good place to start.
Whether you add oxymel to tea, use in grog, mix with rye whiskey, use in place of syrup with water hot or cold, it makes for a nice wintertime home companion.
You will need:
- 125g (½ cup) apple cider vinegar
- 3 lemons
- 60g (¼ cup) sugar
- 1 ginger root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 175g (½ cup) Honey
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove long strips of zest from the lemons and remove as much white pith as possible.
- Juice lemons and strain juice. Pulp will block the Porthole screen if not removed.
- Combine zest strips with sugar. Muddle or rub the mixture together with your fingers until aromatic. This will start the process of extracting the lemon oils, flavoring and coloring the sugar and the resulting oxymel.
- Arrange ginger and cinnamon in the Porthole.
- Transfer the lemon zest & sugar mixture (Oleo Saccharum) mix to the Porthole.
- Close the Porthole, checking the seal for good contact on both sides.
- Let sit for 1 hour or more, occasionally shaking (with stopper inserted). You will see oils being expelled from the zest.
- Add the cider vinegar and honey to lemon juice, and stir well until homogenous.
- Transfer liquid mix into the assembled Porthole through the spout.
- Insert stopper and periodically shake until the sugar is well dissolved.
Best if infused at least 1 day, periodically toggling the Porthole. Will keep and continue to infuse for several days, several weeks if refrigerated.