The farmers' markets are wide open, and I am having fruit envy. I have been surrounded by strawberries, cherries, and other early summer fruit, and I want to bring it all home with me! But I can't eat all that fruit, and I don't have time to can it all either. So I will most likely freeze some, then turn to the easiest, simplest, most long-lasting way to preserve the flavor of fresh summer fruit: Fruit vinegar. Here's why.
Last summer I picked up some late-season raspberries and made a jar of raspberry vinegar. It's as easy as can be: I simmered crushed raspberries in white wine vinegar for about 15 minutes, then strained, bottled, and put it away in the refrigerator. The vinegar turned deep, shocking pink, and it immediately tasted of fresh raspberries.
But as it aged in the fridge, it got mellower and sweeter, with all that summer flavor of berries, infused with the rich tang of vinegar. It's like a concentrated slice of summer, right there in the jar. The color got even darker, too, and added a pink tone to dressings and vinaigrettes.
It was the best 15 minutes I spent last summer, preserving that raspberry taste in vinegar. You can see the rest of the jar, at the top of the post — so pink and beautiful!
This must be the easiest way to preserve the true flavor of summer fruit; the flavor is clearer and purer than it is in jam, and the thought of dripping dark, rich cherry vinegar over my salads at Christmastime is irresistible.
Have you ever made fruit vinegar? Emily and I both have other fruit vinegars to show you later this summer. You should give it a try; it lasts a long time in the refrigerator, and it will make your salads sing.
(Images: Faith Durand)