Berries and cream immediately come to mind whenever I take a whiff of this infusion. The heady aroma of Madagascar vanilla, floats to the surface just ever so, leaving the aromatics of garlic, shallot, and thyme to gently wavering in the wings. The longer this vinegar cures, the more antioxidants the berries impart, and the greater the health benefits it infuses. When reduced to a gastrique, the natural sugars caramelize to soften the acidity of the vinegar. It all depends on how you choose to apply it. I like to cure a double batch just so that I have both options. Its versatility is endless, and like the raspberry gastrique, it enhances savory dishes just as well as desserts.
Recipe Notes: What you will need: 1qt Mason jar, cheesecloth, and strainer. Active prep time for vinegar 3-minutes. Inactive curing time 2-weeks. Cooking time for gastrique, 15-20 minutes. Yields 2-cups. Difficulty level: Easy-moderate
- 1 1/4 -cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2-cup fresh blackberries
- 1/4-cup dry black currants
- 1-shallot split in half
- 1-clove garlic, split in half
- 4-springs fresh thyme
- 1/2-vanilla bean split
- 2-cups white wine vinegar
- Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down center and place in the jar.
- Add blueberries, blackberries, currant, thyme, and aromatics to the jar.
- Heat vinegar in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour vinegar over ingredients, allow to cool before securing the lid.
- Let cure for at least 2-weeks or until berries have blanched and color has leached into vinegar. Strain and remove the vanilla bean (can be reused).
- Using the back of a spoon, pummel berries, pressing to release all the vinegar.
- Store in the desired bottle.
- Pour vinegar into a 2-qt saucepan, add 1/4-cup Stevia and dissolve.
- Bring vinegar to a roaring boil and allow to boil for 5-minutes.
- Remove from heat and swirl till bubbles recede, and steam completely dissipates. Do not stir.
- Return pan to heat, continuing to swirl reduction in intervals between boiling points.
- Reduce vinegar by 2/3 or till a syrupy consistency develops, approximately 15-20 minutes. The last 5-minutes are crucial, this is when the sugars are caramelizing, and the vinegar needs close attention. If starting with 16 ounces of liquid, you should end up with a 2/3-1/2 cup.
To test reduction:
- Pour vinegar into a heat-proof measuring cup.
- If it measures closer to a cup, return pan to burner and continue cooking and swirling. If it is only slightly over 3/4 cup, better to error on the side of caution and under-reduce than over-reduce. Otherwise, the consistency will turn from syrup to jelly when it cools. When in doubt, do a spoon test.
- Allow reduction to cool completely and trail a tablespoon through the reduction, if syrup coats the spoon like honey, then you’ve reached the desired consistency. If it’s still too runny, return reduction to the heat and bring to a full boil swirling in intervals between boiling points one or two more times.
- When completely cooled transfer to the desired bottle.