How to Make Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

Even though this vinegar will have a lovely cherry flavor after infusing for a week, allowing the cherries to steep in the vinegar a few more weeks will result in a much deeper, robust flavor. It’s definitely worth the wait!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cherries, washed, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 cups good quality, dark balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Place pitted and chopped cherries into a sterilized quart mason jar with lid.

Fill the jar with balsamic vinegar a few inches above the cherries (about 2 cups). Cover jar and let steep for at least one week — but longer is better!

Strain the vinegar into a sterilized jar or bottle, discarding the cherries.

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

Blueberry Vinegar

While researching how to make blueberry vinegar, I discovered there are two schools of thought. One school always cooks the berries and then strains it soon after, and the vinegar is almost always sweetened. Then there are “the purists” – those who don’t mind waiting. These are the ones that just mix berries and vinegar and proceed to wait a few days. Either way, it is really easy to make your own blueberry vinegar. Be sure to use very ripe berries – the juicier the better. Here are recipes for both the slow and quick methods.

Blueberry Vinegar (Slow Method)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup very ripe blueberries
2 cups white balsamic, rice, or white wine vinegar

METHOD:

Put the berries into a non-reactive container such as a jar with a plastic lid or use plastic wrap over the opening to prevent vinegar and metal contact. Shake the jar a round to break up the berries, the use a fork to smash them up some more.

Add the vinegar. Seal tightly, and shake vigorously for one minute.

Set the vinegar out of light in a cool spot (refrigerator is fine), and shake once a day for three days.

After three days, strain the vinegar from the berries through a cheesecloth lined stainless-steel strainer into a clean pot. Bring vinegar to a boil and boil 30 seconds. Skim any impurities that may surface. Strain again and decant into a sterilized bottle or jar and store in a cool and dark place.

YIELD: 2 cups vinegar

 

Blueberry Vinegar (Quick Method)

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups really ripe blueberries
2 cups white balsamic, rice, or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar, or agave syrup

METHOD:

Place the berries in the pan.  Lightly crush them with a potato masher. Add the vinegar and the sugar and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a vigorous simmer and cook 3 minutes.

Allow to a few minutes and transfer to a clean bottle or jar with a non-reactive lid. Let stand at least 4 hours, or when cool, put in the refrigerator and store overnight.

Strain the vinegar from the berries through a cheesecloth lined stainless-steel strainer into a sterilized bottle or jar. Store in a dark and cool place.

YIELD: 2 cups vinegar

Strawberry Infused Vinegar

I like to make berry infused vinegars that I use as parts of marinades, sauces, and or salad dressings. When using them in a dressing, I tend to either use them to contrast with sharper, bitter leaves such as escarole, dandelion, rocket, and the like, or I pair them with more delicate lettuces and then add some fruit and or nuts to the mix.

I could see a salad of butterleaf lettuces with strawberries, slivered roasted almonds, and maybe a little bit of crumbled blue cheese with a strawberry vinaigrette made with the vinegar, a little agave syrup, some shallot, a little ginger juice, black pepper, and a light oil such as grapeseed with a touch of almond oil. Garnish the salad with candied ginger bits and a little black pepper that has been dry roasted in a pan-this neutralizes much of the heat and leaves the pepper fruity-and freshly cracked.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pint basketful of ripe (very ripe is ideal) strawberries, hulled and washed
1 quart white wine vinegar

-OPTIONAL-

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns, dry toasted until aromatic
3 sprigs of thyme, rinsed well

METHOD:

Slice strawberries 1/4 inch thick and immerse in the vinegar. Use a jar you can tightly seal.

Keep in the refrigerator a cool dark place. Gently agitate the jar twice a day-morning and evening. Don’t shake too vigorously as you want to avoid having particulate matter from the berries in the vinegar.

Do this for seven days, or less if the berries turn white and seem to have given everything to the vinegar.

Carefully pour off the vinegar into a small sauce pan through a piece of clean cheesecloth or fine towel. Bring the vinegar just to a boil and remove from the heat. (This kills any live yeast so the vinegar will not ferment further.)

Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator or a cool dark pantry.

If you wish to use the options, add them to the vinegar when you add the berries and carry on.

YIELD: 1 quart