02 April 2013

Infused Vinegar Perfect For Summer Salads

Variations of vinegar have been used around the world for 10,000 years for everything under the sun: medicine, a preservative method, alcohol, construction and demolition, and of course, to flavor.  Growing up having Italian Sunday dinners with my grandparents, the small glass cruet of balsamic vinegar, and its dancing partner olive oil, were as expected on the table as salt and pepper.  However, only when I received a unique Christmas gift from my mother-in-law did I really start thinking about vinegar.   Christmas morning was met with two bottles of flavored vinegar, one pomegranate one fig.  And so began a new effort at homemade and increasingly-elaborate vinaigrettes with salads. It was a fun food endeavor and offered the nice bonus of motivating my husband and me to make salads much more often. After remarking for what felt like the thousandth time how much I enjoyed the subtle fruit flavors imparted by these gifts, I did a little reading about how to do this myself.  I read an article here and there but didn’t put these suggestions into practice – until now.
As I sat at the kitchen table pitting my bounty of sour cherries from a recent weekend trip fruit picking at Hollin Farms, my inner monologue cursed the hard, disproportionately-large, inedible protein rock inside of these fruits and the time-consuming, but necessary step to remove them before doing anything else with the cherries.  I wished there was some way to use them to make this worthwhile. Then it hit me-sour cherry-infused vinegar. 
Sour Cherry Vinegar
Ingredients and Tools:
*sour cherry pits (and whatever incidental juice and pulp comes of pitting)
*white vinegar
*storage container (I used a saved, thoroughly-cleaned Worcestershire bottle)
*colander or other sieve
1.       Soak sour cherry pits and whatever remaining drips of cherry juice in white vinegar for 48-72 hours in a sealed Tupperware container at room temperature.  Vinegar will turn a pale pinkish hue and a little bit cloudy as it breaks down the proteins and fiber of the cherry pits.
2.       Strain the vinegar through a fine colander or sieve removing pits and pieces of fruit.  Repeat until vinegar is free of tangible debris.
3.       Funnel vinegar into a receptacle for easy serving.  Store in pantry or on counter (its color makes a nice decoration) at room temperature. 
Perfect for use in salads or as a touch of the liquid in a demi glace or any other time use of vinegar is appropriate in cooking.