Last of the summer fruit

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The seasons are about to change – time to use up the last of the berry fruits.

Finally got five minutes to sit down and blog for once.

The reason is that (good news, for me) the DH and I had a sudden glut of work come in.

As ever, with gluts, this means too much of a good thing at once, and since the DH got his first day off yesterday in six weeks, he is feeling particularly exhausted. 

Anyway, speaking of gluts, the blackberries are about done with, so I shall be using the last of them to make vinegar – there isn’t really enough fruit for jam.

Fruit vinegars useful in cooking to give flavour to a salad or a stirfry but they are also a lovely drink – about a tablespoon in still or fizzy water is about right. 

if you want to try making them, it is far cheaper than buying them and you’ll get a better flavour. Just take a clean jar (some people say clear glass is best, others prefer coloured). Fill it at least half full with blackberries/raspberries, whatever you have, and top off the rest with a good apple cider vinegar.

It’s best to use vinegar with the ‘mother’ in it (this should show as a cloudy sediment at the bottom) but just use what you can find as organic vinegars can be very expensive. Don’t use a malt or white vinegar, though, as these are too strong and overwhelm the fruit flavour – it should be cider vinegar. 

The fruits that work best are berry fruits or soft fruits – generally the strong-flavoured, slightly sour kind that you might find in jam: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, gooseberries, wild cherry, etc all make good vinegars.

Leave the jar on a (hopefully sunny) windowsill for three to six weeks and give it a shake a couple of times a day. Then strain it off into a clean bottle and use it – simple as that.

I strain through a steel funnel with a strainer attachment (you can find these in wine stores for decanting the lees out of wine bottles), but a fine-mesh sieve will do. If there are bits in it, strain it again through a coffee strainer, muslin or a clean teatowel (on which you haven’t used fabric softener). That should result in a clear product. If you squeeze the cloth, you’ll get a more intense flavour, but a cloudier vinegar.

I keep my fruit vinegars in the fridge, to be on the safe side. 

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