A term you'll often spot at fancy restaurants is "balsamic vinegar reduction." You can make it at home with just one ingredient. Drizzle it on sliced ripe strawberries for a Mothers' Day side or dessert that's just $1.72 per serving using organic ingredients. For a sexy date-night treat, serve strawberries whole with balsamic reduction for dipping.
Balsamic reduction is also terrific on roasted carrots, green salads, or spread on toasted baguette slices. No wonder this easy sweet-tart sauce is a favorite with fine chefs.
Active time: 10 minutes. Total time: 1 hour. Serves 6. Vegan, gluten-free, and no added sugar.
1 cup organic balsamic vinegar made with grape wine vinegar and grape must (see notes below)
1 1/2 pounds organic strawberries, fresh and ripe
- Pour balsamic vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel, tin, or lined with stainless steel or ceramic). Cast iron pans and unlined aluminum or copper pans will react with the acidity in the vinegar and change the flavor.
- Bring vinegar to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low so vinegar boils gently, with small bubbles around the edges. Stir occasionally. Cook until vinegar is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 20 minutes. Vinegar is ready when it coats a spoon dipped into it. Check the volume by pouring it into a heat-proof measuring cup. Simmer more or stir in a little water if needed. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature. It will thicken more as it cools.
- While vinegar simmers, rinse strawberries. Slice if desired. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.
- Serve it sexy or simple. Sexy: set out whole strawberries with small bowls of reduced balsamic vinegar for dipping. Simple: arrange strawberry slices in small bowls or on sections of dinner plates. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Any extra vinegar will keep indefinitely at room temperature.
- Choose a medium quality "condiment" balsamic vinegar to reduce. The top-quality balsamic takes 70 pounds of grapes per cup and at least 12 years to produce. It is of course wildly expensive. Our goal is to approach that perfection. Avoid balsamic vinegars that contain sugar, caramel color, apple-cider vinegar, or added flavors.
- Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. I run the house fan and an air filter while simmering the vinegar. Think about it: you are putting two-thirds cup of vinegar into the air! I find the fragrance pleasant but intense, but it makes some people uncomfortable.
Make a difference when you cook
Strawberries are number one in the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, which lists produce with the most pesticide residue. Grapes are number six. The pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides sprayed on these crops are bad for you, the farm workers, and our Mother Earth. Buy organic or buy something else.