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Author Notes: Chef Andy Ricker has several amazing restaurants in Portland, including Pok Pok and Ping, that serve SE Asian cuisine. One of the coolest things they serve are their drinking vinegars, which make a refreshing beverage when added to seltzer water, and can also be added to cocktails. A recent trip to Ping with the ever-lovely Midge ( http://www.food52.com/cooks/4425_midge ) put a bee in my bonnet: I wanted to make my own drinking vinegar. Some internet research provided me with the basic instructions, which I adjusted to suit myself. The resulting "shrub" is an intensely flavored and refreshingly tart decoction.
I highly recommend using coconut vinegar - its mild taste won't compete with your fruit, and it's a lovely translucent white color so your final product will be gorgeous. I found the vinegar at my local Asian market, and it was only a buck 39 a bottle.
Do feel free to experiment with any fruit or combo you'd like! —hardlikearmour
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 & 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh strawberries
- 750 milliliters coconut vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional to taste
- Wash strawberries well, and drain well in a colander. Remove stems and slice or quarter the berries, then transfer them to a non-reactive container that can be tightly sealed.
- Pour the vinegar over the berries. Seal the container and allow to rest at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, stirring once to twice daily. The berries will lose most of their color.
- Transfer vinegar and berries to a non-reactive saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer as gently as possible, uncovered for one hour, stirring on occasion. (Note: boiling vinegar is quite pungent, make sure you have good ventilation!)
- Strain a tablespoon or two of the mixture into a glass, and allow it to cool. Add seltzer water, then taste. Add sugar if desired. Once it is the desired sweetness, remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the entire mixture through a mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing as much of the liquid out of the fruit pulp as possible. Strain the collected liquid through a mesh strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth into a quart-sized pitcher or glass measure. Transfer to a bottle, cool to room temperature, seal, and store in the fridge. Use as you see fit!