This recipe comes from the book The Preservation Kitchen, by Paul Virant, published in 2012. I’ve previously made this wonderful condiment, but it was right before I started my blog, also 2012, thus no photos. His whole concept of aigre-doux, which translates to bitter and sweet, or essentially – bittersweet – is quite unique.
Since that year I’ve made his outstanding cranberry aigre-doux recipe, made with red wine, vanilla and star anise. It’s wonderful served on cream cheese or goat cheese, as pictured below.
This aigre-doux process can also be done with butternut squash and other vegetables, like white asparagus. For his recipe with butternut squash, maple syrup and onions were used. I added it to an orzo salad with vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette.
From the author: “Although I pack this aigre-doux away in July, when the blueberries are inexpensive, I use it most often during the fall and winter months. Before using, I strain and reduce the liquid then add the blueberries back in. Prepared this way, the aigre-doux can be used as a vinaigrette with watercress and roasted nuts. It’s just as phenomenal as a cheese condiment. For special occasions, I will grill a round of Camembert until it’s about to burst, put it on a platter, and then pour the aigre-doux on top.”
Use with cheeses, on ice cream, in cocktails, you name it!
I loved the cranberry version served with goat cheese, but I decided on a warmed brie for the blueberry version. And it was fantastic.
If you wanted to can the blueberry aigre-doux for the holidays, I would suggest adding a cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries, and a couple whole cloves to the wine mixture. That would be outstanding.
1 – 750ml bottle red table wine
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups blueberries
In a pot over high heat, mix together the wine, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil, then transfer to a heat-proof pitcher.
Scald 5 – 1/2 pint jars (I used bigger jars) in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack – you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.
Pack the blueberries into the jars. Pour the wine mixture over the blueberries, leaving a 1/2” space from the rim of the jar. Check the jars for air pockets, adding more of the wine mixture if needed to cover the blueberries. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal the lids, then screw on the band until snug but not tight. (I used metal lids without the bands.)
Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover the jars by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 15 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil). Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.
When you’re ready to use the condiment, drain the blueberries and reduce the liquid. You want it fairly thick and not runny.
Gently stir in the blueberries, then place the warm mixture on top of your cheese, in this case, a warmed brie.
I served the blueberry aigre-doux with plain crackers. Bread would be wonderful as well.