While raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are abundant this summer, prepare a stock of berry-flavored vinegars to save for holiday gifts. A beautiful bottle of homemade berry vinegar is a wonderful gift for a party hostess. And when those special friends treat you to dinner, it makes a unique alternative to giving them a bottle of wine. Be sure to make enough for yourself, too, because you won’t believe the fruity flavors and brilliant colors these recipes produce. Whether you use them now or store them for gifts and cool weather dining, berry vinegars will make foods zing with the refreshing tastes of summer. When making these vinegars, start with wine vinegar. The milder vinegar readily takes on the flavor of added ingredients, so the result is sweet and light. Strain the berry vinegars into decorative glass jars or bottles after the vinegars have steeped for 48 hours or more. Assortments of hand molded, clear, patterned bottles are available at kitchen specialty shops or by mail order. When filled with these colorful berry vinegars, the bottles are as pretty as stained glass. Display the bottles in a cool kitchen window for a colorful reminder of fresh summer berries. Splash Minted Raspberry Vinegar, Blueberries ‘N’ Spice Vinegar, or Orange-Scented Strawberry Vinegar on broiled or grilled chicken or fish. There’s no need for other sauces or condiments. Sprinkle a little on salads or steamed garden vegetables and you can dress them without a bit of oil or butter. A light touch of the spicy, sweet-tart vinegars will give fruit dishes zesty flavor; or stir a tablespoon or two into crème fraiche, sour cream, or mayonnaise for a thicker fruit topping. If tomato sauce, soup, or stew tastes flat, a dash or two of berry vinegar will perk it up. Or try on of the flavored vinegars in any dish that calls for ordinary vinegar. Taste buds will be refreshed by the unexpected, subtle flavors these vinegars add.more
Berry Vinegar 3 cups fresh berries 4 cups white wine vinegar ½ cup sugar Rinse berries, allow to air dry on paper towels. Place berries in a 6 cup glass jar; set aside. Combine vinegar and sugar in a non-corrosive saucepan; bring almost to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts (do not boil). Pour hot vinegar over berries. Cover jar tightly; let stand at room temperature for 48 hours. If desired, strain mixture through several layers of cheesecloth into a tightly closed bottle or jar. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 months. Makes about 4 ½ cups. Minted Raspberry Vinegar Prepare vinegar as directed for Berry Vinegar using 3 cups raspberries, except add ½ cup packed mint sprigs to berries in jar before adding hot vinegar. Strain mixture to remove berries and mint after 48 hours of steeping. Blueberries ‘N’ Spice Vinegar Prepare vinegar as directed for Berry Vinegar using 3 cups blueberries, except add 2 (3” each) cinnamon sticks and 1 whole nutmeg, halved, to berries in jar before adding hot vinegar. Strain mixture to remove berries and spices after 48 hours of steeping. Orange Scented Strawberry Vinegar Remove zest of 1 orange with a vegetable peeler in a long, single strip. Thread on a wooden skewer. Prepare vinegar as directed for Berry Vinegar using 3 cups strawberries, except add orange zest to berries in jar before adding hot vinegar. Strain mixture to remove berries and orange zest after 48 hours of steeping. Lemon Garlic Vinegar 1 quart white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar Peel of 2 lemons 2 cloves garlic, crushed In a saucepan heat vinegar (do not boil). Place lemon peel and garlic in crock or jar. Pour hot vinegar over. Cover and let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 to 4 weeks. Check for flavor. Strain into clean bottles. If desired, thread additional lemon peel on wooden skewer; insert in bottle. Makes 1 quart.