I don't know about you, but I love the contrast of salty goats cheese with the sweet acidity of fruit. Somehow it seems to cut through the heaviness to produce a combination that's perfect!
So, when I found a recipe for raspberry vinegar I knew I had to give it a try.....well actually I found several recipes for raspberry vinegar, or raspberry 'shrub' as it was known in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was a popular drink and is actually very refreshing in hot weather, served with ice! I know it may sound strange to have a fruit cordial with a vinegar base, but the acidity cuts through the sweetness in a very pleasing way. Apparently, it's even good for sore throats diluted at 1 dessertspoon to 250mls of water!
Anyway, not one to be able to leave a recipe alone, I thought it would make a great fruit vinegar to use in dressings too, so I cut the sugar down in the last stage to keep the tartness. There were blackberries on sale in my local market and I couldn't resist using these instead, just because I love their deep, jammy colour!
The vinegar itself is very simple to make..... you just put your blackberries (or whatever fruit you choose to use) - I used about 500g - into a kilner jar or bottle and cover them with white vinegar.
Leave them to stand for a week, stirring well each day. Then strain the fruit and add one pound of sugar to one pint of liquid ....or in metric, about 500g sugar to 500mls of liquid (though I think it sounds much more evocative in imperial measures!) and boil it up for about 20 minutes, until it gets syrupy. Finally, skim off any white foam, and pour into sterilised bottles, then seal when it is cold. As I said, to make it more of a fruit vinegar I put in less sugar - about half of the amount used for the shrub.
Goats cheese and mango salad with blackberry vinaigrette
Now, you've got your gorgeous burgundy jewelled fruit vinegar...... so here's an idea of how to use it... mix two parts blackberry vinegar to three parts oil (rapeseed is a good oil to use because its delicate flavour won't overpower the fruit) to make a basic vinaigrette that's a little heavier than normal on the vinegar. Liberally drizzle the dressing over a goats cheese and mango salad, all that lovely palate of colours and saltiness and acid fruitiness....then, just sit back and enjoy!