I found this curious and rather vaguely described recipe for "Raspberry Acetosa" in Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (1891). It’s an unusual recipe based on a framboise or raspberry syrup base but instead of the addition of citric acid, a dash of very good red wine vinegar is added. I say it’s vaguely described because, in his typical manner, Artusi has forgotten to give doses for the fruit in proportion to sugar and water. That, and his instructions for adding vinegar are based along the lines of “taste it and see,” which is part of what I love about this quirky historical cookbook author.
So, this is my interpretation of Artusi’s Acetosa (I ended up going with equal amounts of fruit to sugar). It is a refreshing syrup, and that little kick of vinegar makes it the perfect base for unique summer cocktails or drizzled over ice cream or crepes. Really, the options are endless.
For this recipe, I chose to go with a version of a mojito. I have to credit my husband, Marco, for the cocktail idea, he has worked as a barman in some of Florence’s best bars (such as the Four Seasons) and is my cocktail guru!
Note: in the recipe below, I have accounted for enough Acetosa to make the following drinks. It can easily be doubled or tripled to make a larger supply so you can use it anything and everything.
- Emiko —Emiko
Test Kitchen Notes
We love any drink you make the right in the glass (though we admit we used a mortar and pestle because we were serving it in delicate tumblers). Emiko's elegant cocktail brings a pleasant sting from the red wine vinegar, which is a perfect match for the sweet raspberries and keeps the syrup (acetosa) from being cloying. Fresh whole lemon pieces, plenty of rum, a splash of soda and a pretty basil leaf are the finishing touches to this refreshing summer drink. - A&M —The Editors
For the Acetosa, place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil (stir until the sugar has dissolved). Let the syrup simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until thickened but not caramelized.
In the meantime, squeeze the raspberries through a fine sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp and juice. Discard the seeds and place the juice/pulp in a bowl and set aside. When the syrup has boiled, add directly into the bowl with the raspberries along with the vinegar. You may want to first just add 1 tablespoon, taste, then adjust to your taste. I found 2 tablespoons to be pleasantly acidic while not being overpowering. Set aside and allow to cool. If you make this in larger quantities you can keep this bottled and stored in the fridge for quite some time.
For the mojito, in each glass (a tumbler is the classic glass to use), pound 1 tablespoon of sugar together with ¼ of the lemon and a little splash of soda water to loosen. Fill the tumblers with ice. Add the rum, the raspberry acetosa and fill the rest of the glass with soda water, stopping when you reach ½ inch from the top. Stir carefully with a spoon from the bottom of the glass to the top. Garnish with the basil and a handful of fresh raspberries.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.