Back in 2014 Susie Hamilton Stubber set out to create a range of ground-breaking and affordable 100% natural whole fruit infused vinegars, but it wasn’t until two years later that her company, Burren Balsamics, faced the real acid test. Having successfully created all the black flavours by then, Susie met up with Bob McDonald at an exhibition in 2017 and the pair set about expanding the business.
Using traditionally aged balsamic vinegar imported directly from Modena, Burren, based in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, was infusing using locally grown fruit and allowing the product to mature naturally. The idea was to create a versatile ingredient that could be used as part of any recipe, so much more than a dressing, with a variety of uses in the kitchen.
Having attended a training session with Sous Vide Tools, however, Bob realised that the desire to create flavour that is synonymous with the sous vide technique is exactly what Burren Balsamics was striving to do with its own products, so the couple started experimenting and the results were outstanding. Over the following months Burren gradually transferred its entire production to sous vide.
“We find that the extraction of oxygen and the application of gentle heat enables us to get superb flavours time after time, no matter what the ingredient used,” explains Susie. “But what we like most of all is the exceptional control that sous vide gives us, along with a more consistent fruit profile, using less fruit, and a smoother finish. When using the premium quality, delicate vinegars that we favour, the method allows us to maintain the character of the vinegars while allowing the flavours to shine through.
“At the same time, there is little or no waste as the fruits may then be used for a second product. We can also keep the finished product in the bag until needed, so the ‘best before’ date doesn’t begin until the vinegar is actually bottled, giving us added flexibility.”
Before the introduction of sous-vide the vinegars and flavours were more difficult to work with, and the company naturally wanted them to achieve their full potential.
“Sous vide has not only delivered for us, it has also enabled us to look at a secondary marmalade line, using the fruits in a completely different range,” says Susie. “Think Balsamic Blood Orange and Cardamom, and Balsamic Strawberry Jam.”
For now, Burren Balsamics has an award-winning collection ranging from white condiments such as Irish Cherry, and Wild Garlic, perfect for salads, sauces, fruit and topping ice cream, right through to the fruit infused range that covers everything from Blackberry & Thyme to Strawberry & Mint, all created with the help of Sous Vide Tools.