Berry-infused vinegar made with cognac, maple syrup or sugar, and a double infusion of fresh berries. Makes about 2 cups.
Keyword: Blackcap raspberries
¼cupcognac or brandy*See note
1.5lbsfresh berries, such as blackcap raspberries, preferably overripe*See note
75grams5 tablespoons maple syrup, or a comparable amount of sugar
2cupshigh quality white wine vinegar
Divide the berries in half. Refrigerate half the berries, then put the rest in a container, like a quart mason jar, and cover with the vinegar, maple and cognac or brandy and allow to sit for 48 hours, stirring occasionally and pressing them against the side to help the berries break up a bit.
Strain out the berries from the vinegar (saving them for another purpose, like jam or vinegar) then repeat the process with the reserved berries and infused vinegar.
After the second infusion, strain out the second batch of berries and transfer the vinegar to a bowl on top of a simmering pot of water and allow to gently heat for 30 minutes.
Cool and store
Cool the vinegar to room temperature, then bottle and store. It's excellent used to deglaze pans and make beurre blancs and other sauces, but shines the most used alongside some good tasting oil, especially nut oils like hazelnut or pumpkinseed in a simple dressing.
Using the vinegar to dress a salad
To dress a salad with the finished vinegar, season salad greens to taste with oil and the vinegar in separate containers (don't mix them, shake in a jar to emulsify, or anything like that) add a pinch of salt, a few cracks of pepper and maybe a couple torn leaves of basil or mint.
Mix, taste, adjust the seasoning for vinegar, salt and herbs until it tastes good to you, and serve.
The Alcohol Don't be tempted skip the alcohol here-it serves a purpose. Besides brandy or cognac adding complimentary notes, the alcohol seems to serve a dual purpose of helping to extract the juice of the fruit more than just vinegar alone. Cooking takes the raw edge off the alcohol.BerriesThis uses a generous amount of fresh berries, but you can probably get away with using half the amount, splitting it in half for the two macerations/infusions.