Admit it. If you’re a strawberry fan, you’re buying them by the bushel right now. Savoring sweet local strawberries in any form you can conceive of–muffins, pies, salads, soups, shortcake, crumbles. But what happens after strawberry season? Sure, you can turn them into jam. But what if you’re not looking for a huge drawn out process. What if you have a fear of boiling water baths? You could freeze them. That’s easy enough. Though a bit boring. The only logical option is to move to condiments.
I went a bit crazy the other week and bought four quarts of strawberries. Half of them were for jam. The rest? I really wasn’t sure but they looked so tempting I just couldn’t refuse. We ate strawberries for two days by the handful until our fingers literally started turning red. If you’re into fresh strawberries, you know those picks from the farmer’s markets are super ripe. If they last for three days on your counter you’re pretty lucky. At that point they start getting squishy and dingy looking. Or worse–fuzzy. After two days the remaining strawberries were still okay to eat, though not as inviting. Rather than take the time to turn them into something baked (and heat up my already sweltering kitchen) I wanted something quick and easy.
I was a bit astonished how easy it was to make strawberry vinegar. And how great it tasted. Cutting up the strawberries probably accounts for 75% of the work. It’s the perfect use for almost overripe berries that have lost their eating appeal. After that you have to check it every day or so (real hard, I know), strain and cook the mixture at the end. I read a lot of recipes for strawberry and other flavored vinegars. I came to the conclusion that it was silly not to make some. I’ve never seen strawberry vinegar in a store, but come across raspberry often. You pay a pretty penny for a tiny jar of that stuff. Making it at home you pay a (teeny tiny) fraction of the price. And I think it tastes better. It’s the love of course! Aww…
Simple Strawberry Vinegar (Makes about 1 cup)
- 1 c chopped very ripe strawberries
- 1 c white vinegar
- Up to 1 tsp sugar (optional)
Put berries and vinegar in a mason jar, seal and shake. Let the strawberries soak for about 10 days, making sure you give them a good shake to mix each day. The vinegar is “ready” when the most of the color has drained from the berries and they seem almost whitish.
Strain liquid into a small saucepan, pressing the strawberries with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all juices. Taste the vinegar and add a bit of sugar if necessary. My berries were super ripe so I added about 1/4 a teaspoon. Over medium heat bring the vinegar to a slow boil. (This helps kill off any potential bacteria, otherwise it would need to be kept in the fridge and only keep a few weeks). Let the vinegar boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Strain the mixture once more through several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter to remove any remaining pulp. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
- Jam Season is Here – Lavender Strawberry Jam (bklynlocavore.com)
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- Homemade Strawberry Custard Recipe (fusionxtra.com)