Here in the Pacific Northwest this year, a late summer warming brings incredible yet delicate strawberries. When cut in half they reveal a deep red color all the way through the flesh. Although not the huge ones you may see in Costco or your local market, what they lack in size and uniformity, they totally blow away anything when it comes to the intense flavor in this smaller-sized berry. I first tried this recipe several years ago. Now I make this each year to celebrate summer. Not much of a camp recipe, save this for a backyard barbecue after a ride. A really easy recipe, I guarantee that you will get rave reviews when it’s served. I have several topping options for you to try below but my wife loves it served in a huge wine glass with a large dollop of real whipped cream.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar (Colavita brand is very good)
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup creme fraiche made at least two days ahead*
In a small sauce pan place the sugar on medium heat. Stirring occasionally cook the sugar until it begins to caramelize. At this point add the water and vinegar, reduce the heat to simmer the mix for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool fully. Next in a large bowl pour the vinegar/sugar mixture over the berries. Mix gently occasionally while the berries are marinating at room temperature. Do this for 3 to 4 hours. As the berries react with the marinade they will release some of their juices creating a syrup. To serve divide the berries into 4 servings and top with crème fraiche.
*To make crème fraiche if it’s not available at your local market:
1 to 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk 2 cups heavy cream (pasteurized, not ultra pasteurized or sterilized, and with no additives). Combine the buttermilk and cream in a saucepan and heat only to warm (not more than 85 degrees on an instant reading thermometer). Pour into a clean glass jar. Partially cover and let stand at room temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened. Stir and refrigerate at least 24 hours before using. The cream will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Or another style is to combine the cream and buttermilk and let it sit out partially covered on the counter for 8 to 24 hours until it thickens, then refrigerate. If you don’t have the patience or time, you can substitute Mexican Crema. I found some named LALA brand. It’s very rich and smooth, but not as tangy as American style sour cream. If you can’t find either, American sour cream will work.