Home How-To Tasty Odd Couple: Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

Tasty Odd Couple: Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

Tasty Odd Couple: Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

fresh strawberries in a clamshellThere are two types of strawberries: those grown locally and those at home in a plastic clamshell.

  • Local berries: soft, juicy and bruised by a simple indiscretion.
  • Store-bought strawberries: large, structurally sound and able to be dropped from tall buildings and remain unscathed.

Unfortunately what the latter offers in transportability and durability, it usually lacks in flavor. And while local berries reign supreme, their coronation and abdication are but months apart, making for a short-lived legacy.

For the times when local berries are a memory and my addiction to shortcake prevails, I buy store-bought organic strawberries. (Please, no judging, and besides, the whipped cream made me do it.)  Because these strawberries can often times enjoy a crunch factor shared with the likes of jicama and water chestnuts, I offer this simple recipe to soften the texture a tad and enhance the flavor immensely. Before you wince, give it a try. It is remarkably good and about as simple as it gets.

bowl of sliced strawberries with basalmic glaze

Recipe: Strawberries Dressed in Balsamic Vinegar & Brown Sugar Syrup


  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 2 T brown Sugar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar


  1. Wash the berries, dry, hull and quarter lengthwise
  2. Mix brown sugar and balsamic vinegar into syrup
  3. Toss the berries
  4. Let them sit for one half hour
  5. Toss again, serve, and thank me later

brown sugar and basalmic vinegar syrup for strawberries

I use the syrup sparingly, just enough to coat the berries, brighten the flavor and draw out some juices.

Alpine and everbearing strawberry plantsMy own alpine (fraises de bois), Tristar and Albion strawberries are about a two weeks from ripening.

brown sugar and basalmic vinegar

That said (Boz & Gracie cover your ears), I’ll have to rely on this dynamic flavor duo to brighten some store-bought berries in the meantime.


  1. Ohhh my mouth is watering!!! We had something very similar to this at little restaurant in Silverton (The Silver Grill – wonderful local seasonal cuisine!). They topped it with a little dollop of mascarpone cheese and a thin shortbread cookie – is was lovely. Just a few more days of sun in the PNW and we’ll have strawberries of our own!!!

  2. Strawberries in balsamic are becoming quite the popular dish but I’ll have to admit that I’ve only ever eaten it 2 or 3 times since moving to Italy. I blame this lack of strawberry madness on my husband, who unfortunately, is allergic to them so for us, the season comes and goes without much fanfare!

  3. Celina: I checked out The Silver Grille (http://www.silvergrille.com/); their menu made my mouth water. If I thought my truck could make it south of the Columbia River, I’d say a road trip is in my future.

    Rowena: Strawberry allergy, that’s too bad. Well the good news is you have a peach tree and raspberry season is close at hand.

  4. I often go the slightly lazy route– drizzle the vinegar over the berries and then sprinkle some salt on top and call it a salad. Of course that’s when I’m not tossing them with sugar and whipping cream.

  5. Renae: Lazy…or time resourceful? I’d go with the latter. That will surely work, drizzle with vinegar and then toss some sugar in for good measure.

  6. Hi, found your site through David Lebovitz. Have you ever put your strawbs in red wine instead of the balsamic? If not do try it. Are you using red balsamic here? I have some white I might try it with.

  7. Tom I’ve always wondered on those fancy pants strawberries – how is the flavor? What is your favorite kind? I’m in strawberry heaven and snitching early raspberries this weekend to boot. Ah summer…

  8. Cate: I am using red balsamic vinegar, but I have used white balsamic, which actually looks more appealing when you get down to it. As for Strawberries in wine, you are so right; they’re exceptionally delicious. Hmmm, me thinks I have a new post thanks to you. Welcome!

    Annette @ Sustainable Eats: You know chefs rave about alpine strawberries and people woo over their cuteness, but I’m beginning to believe this emperor is naked and they best left for garnishes. I’m trying a couple new varieties so I could be wrong. In the big bad strawberry department, I usually go day-neutral so I have strawberries for three to four months. Tristar is good, and I’m also trying Albion (big green berries so far) and Ozark Beauty for the first time. I have friends who swear by Shuskan (June), Seascape (EB), and Hood (EB). I’ll let you know what I think with the first picking.

  9. As a recent fan to the balsamic + strawberry combo, I know this must taste great. I love strawberries and discovering new ways to enjoy them: must try this.

  10. Hi Tom,
    Just wondering if you could give us an update on how your strawberries did this summer. I am especially interested in how the Albion and Ozark Beauty compared with Tristar in terms of flavor, yield, etc.
    Many thanks,
    Bruce Birrell

  11. Bruce, I had an abysmal strawberry harvest this year in a new bed. The soil had some deficiency so I’m having it tested. Neither Albion or Ozark Beauty did well, but that should not be a marker for them in general. I’ll try again and keep you posted.

    I did plant another berry, which proved a real winner, even better in my book than Tristar. It was Quinualt, which was sweet with few runners and easy to clean (green tops come off with a light pull). The berry weren’t as pretty as Tristar but the flavor was better. I’m going to plant more of those next year.


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