I’ve known that strawberries and balsamic vinegar are great friends. But rhubarb, cherries and figs can also be chummy with this rich condiment. Sweet summer fruits and berries pair perfectly with smooth balsamic vinegar to create a complex friendship. My husband, Charlie, is a sweet man who rarely eats sweets. Yet he loves this combination, especially on vanilla ice cream.
Serve this threesome of rhubarb, strawberries and balsamic vinegar and you can forget all about chocolate syrup. Balsamic vinegar is already a reduction of white grape juice. Mixed with sugar and slightly reduced, it becomes rich and syrupy with a sharp sweetness that’s addictive. I got a little distracted while making my second batch and ended up with balsamic candy, interesting but so incredibly sticky, I had to start over. Take it easy with the heat and you’ll do just fine.
Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
3 T balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 t finely minced fresh ginger (optional)
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries, rhubarb, cherries or figs
In a small saucepan stir sugar into vinegar over low heat until completely dissolved. Add ginger, if desired. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes and taste. Once you can no longer taste the sugar granules, add the fruit and simmer very gently until crisp-tender, just a minute or two.
I like to make the syrup and then add the fruit just before using. If you want something more like preserves, go ahead and add the fruit when you’re making the syrup. It keeps well in the fridge.
Sweet cherries are starting to show up at the local markets and make a delicious balsamic syrup sauce served over pork tenderloin or roast chicken.
Using the basic balsamic vinegar syrup recipe, I heated some on the stovetop and added sliced cherries to warm them for a couple of minutes. The combination of sweet and savory works as well with meats as it does on ice cream.
Sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar syrup on top of any soft cheese (I used a yogurt cheese), spread on crackers or toast makes a bright appetizer or summer breakfast treat.
I have to say that I really miss Billy’s Organic strawberries at the farmers market this year. I don’t even want to think about how much I’m going to miss his tomatoes!