Put cranberries, syrup and salt in a pan and heat over high heat until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat, let cool and then puree in a blender. Add vinegar and taste for balance. Add more vinegar and thin with water if necessary. Strain through a fine strainer into a bowl or pitcher. Store in a clean jar or bottle (do not use metal lids or tops) and refrigerate. Keeps several weeks.
Keep this syrup on hand to add to iced tea and other cold drinks or for poaching fruit. It does not need to be refrigerated. The vanilla is minced to make sure all its flavor is extracted into the syrup.
Put the sugar, water, vanilla beans, a pinch salt, and the thyme leaves in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Puree syrup in a blender until vanilla beans are thoroughly chopped into the syrup. Strain through a fine strainer into a sterilized jar. If using vanilla extract instead of beans, add extract after the sugar syrup has cooled and pour into a jar. Seal tightly.
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for one year. Making sure hands, equipment and surfaces in your canning area are clean is the first step in canning. Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with glass, plastic or metal lids that have a rubberlike seal. Two-piece metal lids are most common. To prepare jars before filling: Wash jars with hot, soapy water, rinse them well and arrange them open-side up, without touching, on a tray. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Jars have to be sterilized only if the food to be preserved will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath or pressure canner. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and preparing lids and bands. Use tongs or jar lifters to remove hot sterilized jars from the boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too: Dip the tong ends in boiling water for a few minutes before using them. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, preserves and pickles must be clean, including any towels and especially your hands. After the jars are prepared, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. Find Information information on canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Recipe courtesy of Michael Chiarello