Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bilberry Vinegar

So first off an admission, when I say I’ve made a vinegar, what I actually mean is I took some white wine vinegar and added some fruit. I could have taken the fruit and made some alcohol then vinegar out of it but I don’t really have the patience for that. This however was very easy to make

Bilberries, in case you’re wondering, are any of several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries but closely related to them. (Wikipedia). They also look like little blueberries and can be seen below.

I’ve had an idea for making a vinegar out of these for ages now. The Woods at Hanchurch are blessed with an abundance of the fruit baring shrub and this year the yield is very good indeed. Armed with a basket, Lisa and I spent a hour or so collecting fruit for this little experiment.

I’d looked around for ideas for making vinegar and settled on white wine vinegar base with the addition of the fruit and sugar.

So the taste, biased slightly, but it’s brilliant, it has a lovely fruity sweet note but with the all important tang that makes a vinegar what it is.

So far I’ve only used in with oil and bread, that said it is really, really good

Before we go any further, an apology from me. As I write this the bilberry season is pretty much over I think, so if you want to have a go, you’ll have to wait until next year

900g of Bilberries
700 ml White Wine Vinegar
350g Caster Sugar

Airtight Jar and/or sealable bottles

Remove and stalks and leaves from the berries, then wash in cold water. Put the washed berries in a large bowl, pour on the vinegar and then mash the berries. You can use a fork or potato masher for this. Once you’re happy that you’ve mashed them enough, pour everything into sealable, sterilised jar. Leave in the jar out of direct sunlight for around 4 weeks. You can, if you wish, about 2 weeks in, give them a further mash with your masher.

After 4 weeks drain the now vivid purple vinegar through some muslin and sieve to remove any bits, this could take a while to do, so you can if you want, squeeze the muslin around the berries to get the last bits of juice out, be warned though it’s wise to wear gloves as the juice is hell to get off your hands.

Once you’ve got all the goodness out, pour the liquid into a large saucepan. Taste it first it should be very tart but with a fruity taste. The Sugar volume above is a guideline, by tasting before you should have an idea as to how sweet it already is. I would start with about half the amount above and add to the pan. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar into the vinegar and taste, if it’s not sweet enough add more sugar, if you’re happy then stop.

Pour into sterilised bottles or jars, seal and you can use it immediately, it does taste better after a few weeks though

Use it as you would balsamic or fruit vinegars

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