NZ Woman's Weekly

The bitter end

In Nana’s day, flavoured vinegars were used to add something special to gravies and sauces, as marinades for meat, interesting additions to chutneys and preserves, and some people even added them to water to make a drink.

This wonderful boysenberry vinegar recipe was sent to me by reader Helen Avery, who says it is her grandmother’s version, from a book which collected the recipes from the columns of the
New Zealand Dairy Exporter and Farm Home Journal.

Helen says her grandmother would have added fresh berries, but she uses frozen. When I received this recipe I rushed to my freezer, where I knew a 500g bag of mixed berries was lurking after the family had been through a phase of making smoothies for breakfast and then got sick of them.

“Perfect,” I said to myself, satisfied that I would be using them up and looking forward to my new berry vinegar in dressings and in sauces to go with strong red meats, such as venison. But by far the best use I have found for this vinegar, so far, is using it as a dip for new season Bluff oysters.

This vinegar would also make a great present for a keen cook.


  • 500g boysenberries
  • (strawberries or raspberries
  • can be used instead)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups white sugar

1. Mash the fruit well and cover with the vinegar. Leave to stand for three days (Helen uses her mum’s large Crown Lynn mixing bowl), stirring occasionally.
2. Put through a sieve, pushing the fruit through. Place this in a pot with the sugar and boil for 3 or 4 minutes. Bottle when cold and seal.
3. Helen says she uses the vinegar as a dressing for green salads without adding oil, but her sister adds olive oil as well. “It all depends on your taste,” she says. Personally, I like it with a bit of olive oil and I’ve also been using it to deglaze the pan after cooking up some chicken livers or lamb’s fry – simply delicious.


  • Fresh, peeled horseradish
  • Malt vinegar

Now that you can buy fresh horseradish in some specialty food stores (or perhaps you grow your own), I thought this recipe might come in handy. It’s great to have on hand to make the most of the hot, piquant  flavour you only get from the fresh version. I grew my own horseradish and, again, had some sitting in the freezer, so was able to clear some space and use up the horseradish with this recipe.

This vinegar is great sprinkled over seafood and fish or used in a salad dressing.
1. Peel the horseradish roots and bash them about a bit in your mortar and pestle or throw them in your food processor.
2. Put in a bowl and estimate how much malt vinegar you will need to cover them.
3. Bring the vinegar to the boil and then pour it over the horseradish. Leave it covered on the kitchen table with a tea towel for a week, then strain and seal in glass bottles.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142

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