Sweet condiments are the newest craze.
By Gabrielle Bright, The Canadian Living Test Kitchen
One of the hottest food trends this spring is sweet condiments. Professional and home chefs alike are using more ingredients and convenience products (such as barbecue sauces, jams and vinegars) enhanced with fruit, honey and maple syrup as building blocks for great cooking. As a result, an onslaught of fruit vinegars (such as pear, passionfruit and pomegranate-champagne) and balsamic vinegars (such as fig and raspberry) are lining the shelves of both grocery and specialty stores as consumers realize how great these products are for finishing sauces, tossing with greens or basting grilled meats.
Last week, the Test Kitchen tasted nine vinegars with our friends from the Qualifirst Group (or Epicureal.com). After tasting balsamic fig and hibiscus vinegar, we have relegated plain white vinegar to cleaning windows and cutlery. Here are some tasting notes.
Balsamic with Fig & Lemon (California Harvest):
The rich flavours of figs and balsamic vinegar combine beautifully in this dense, sweet vinegar. Use it to dress grilled fruits or vegetables, chicken, fish or hardy greens.
Cider Vinegar (Vilex):
Made from Normandy apples, this round, full-flavoured cider vinegar has a slight savoury quality and enough body for bitter greens.
Pear Vinegar (Vilex):
Mild with a subtle, clean pear flavour, this is perfect for drizzling over delicate baby spinach.
Pomegranate Champagne Vinegar (California Harvest):
Wow! Made from Champagne vinegar and concentrated pomegranate juice, this vinegar is intensely fruity and almost drinkable. Its full sweet-tangy flavour makes a great addition to sauces or glazes.
Raspberry Red Wine Vinegar (Vilex):
Macerated French raspberries give this wonderful tangy vinegar a long, berry finish. Toss with fresh spinach or fruit salads.
This is a luscious, ruby red balsamic vinegar naturally flavoured with hibiscus flowers. Drizzle over fruit, roasted beets or delicate greens.
Tasting a flight of nine vinegars was fun and a great way to notice subtle differences in flavours. However, we all felt quite parched later and so don't recommend tasting more than three at a time.