I had a bunch of girlfriends over a year or so ago, and I tried this out on them. A couple of them thought the end result was a bit odd, because they were expecting a straightforward sweet flavor, but I noticed them returning to the bowl again and again, and it didn’t take long for the ladies to finish them. The flavor is quite complex, but there isn’t any boozy taste to them at all. In fact, we ate them for breakfast, alongside pancakes. If I had not said there was vodka in them, I do not think anyone would have known.
I really expected the strawberries to macerate and break down into a kind of compote, but they didn’t at all. They were beautiful and glistening, but held their shape and texture. You could add some whipped cream to them, or serve them over ice cream or on pancakes as we did, or just eat them straight up from a bowl.
Strawberries Marinated in Vodka and Balsamic Vinegar
• 1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
• 3 tbsp. vodka
• 1 tbsp. lemon zest, finely grated
• 2 tbsp. lemon juice
• 2 tsp. thick balsamic vinegar
• A pinch of sea salt
• black pepper, to taste
• 1/4 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
• 1-2 tbsp. sugar
1. Combine the strawberries, vodka, lemon zest and juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Use a knife to scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the bowl, and add 1 tbsp sugar. Stir gently, but thoroughly. Adjust the sweetness.
2. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill. Let the mixture chill (give it an occasional stir) for 30 minutes, or up to an hour. The longer it sits, the more flavor the vodka will extract from the berries.