Anyone who has visited my house knows my obsession with drinking vinegars. I offer a bubbly fruit/tart drink up to anyone who sits at my table. It can take some convincing of first timers that this vinegar does really taste wonderfully refreshing. They are growing in popularity, especially here in Portland. Pok Pok, a terrific authentic Thai restaurant, has made drinking vinegars practically mainstream.
I written about them before, and even made a cocktail using apple drinking vinegar in my Food Network application video. I have been purchasing bottles of fruit flavored vinegars at the Asian market. Apple, lemon, and strawberry vinegars have been my favorite.
Strawberry and peach drinking vinegars. The raspberry was drank very fast!
Drinking vinegars, from what I can tell, have a history in both the American South and all over Southeast Asia. It is a syrup created with fruit, fruit juices, a base vinegar and sweetened with sugar. When mixed with bubbly water it makes a sweet tart soda. Add a splash of gin or vodka and you have a fabulous cocktail.
I have been thinking about attempting homemade drinking vinegar for a while. Being pregnant, and off the cocktails, encouraged me to come up with interesting nonalcoholic drinks. A kitchen counter filled with u-pick strawberries, raspberries and peaches was all I needed to push me into experimentation.
The whole process took a week, but really only about an hour of hands-on time. I am very pleased with the results - sweet, tart, and fruity. Any juicy fruit would work. I can't wait until fall to try an apple and pear flavored vinegar. This is a pretty loosey-goosey recipe, but just adjust sugar to match your tastes.
Homemade Drinking Vinegars - makes about one quart
1 pint fruit, or 2 cups chopped stone fruit
3-4 cups white vinegar (I think a rice vinegar would work well too)
1 1/2 - 2 cups white sugar
1. In a clean quart jar add fruit and smoosh with a spoon until juice is released. Top off the jars with vinegar. Push fruit under the vinegar if it floats.
2. Cover the top with a clean cloth napkin and secure with a rubber band. Leave in a cool place for one week. (At this point you have a fruit vinegar for salad dressings)
3. Strain vinegar to remove fruit solids into a sauce pan. You should have about 3 1/2 cups of liquid.
4. Add sugar and bring mix to a boil for 5 minutes. It should thicken a bit.
5. At this point I would do a taste test. Mix 3 tablespoons with a large glass of seltzer. Is it sweet enough? If not, add more sugar and boil until the sugar melts.
6. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge. Use as needed.
PS. A yummy cocktail recipe: In a large glass mix 3 tablespoons of strawberry drinking vinegar, shot of vodka, squeeze of lime and top with seltzer.