Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar
Elderberries give this syrupy vinegar a lovely tart, fruity kick. Use it in place of regular balsamic in your recipes – it’s especially good in a salad dressing for the more bitter wild leaves like dandelion, primrose or oxeye daisy, but also good in marinades, to add sharpness to a rich stew, for macerating berries or as a sauce for pancakes or ice cream.
- 500g ripe elderberries
- 750ml white wine or cider vinegar
- Granulated sugar (about 1kg)
- Wash and drain the elderberries, then pick them from the umbels (a fork is a useful implement here), leaving as much of the stalk behind as possible. Use only the dark purple, ripe berries and discard the umbel stalks and any green unripe berries.
- Put the picked berries into a suitable container – a large non-reactive bowl or a large glass jar would be ideal – and pour over the vinegar. Cover the container and let the berries steep for 5 days, stirring once or twice a day.
- After then 5 days are up, strain the liquid through a seive. (You can, if you want, re-use the berries – see note below).
- Measure the vinegar (you should have about 750ml), and weigh out 325g sugar for every 250ml of strained liquid. (You can reduce the sugar for a sharper, more vinegary end result, but this ratio will give the tart-sweet finish of a typical balsamic vinegar).
- Pour the vinegar into a large pan and add the sugar. Set the pan over a low heat and gradually bring to the boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and pour the vinegar into sterilised bottles or jars.
The vinegar-soused berries are still packed with juice, so we suggest steeping them again in vinegar, adding spices to taste, and using the resulting infusion for marinades or dressings.