Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fantastic Fresh Fruit Shrubs

When I first heard someone discussing "shrubs", I immediately thought of a plant. It turns out that it's not even close. Here's the quick rundown of the history of the shrub. In times where refrigeration was not common and markets were not as plentiful fresh fruit was only available for limited seasons. At the end of the season, to preserve and utilize all of the fruit, people would often make drinking vinegar - or shrubs. Now that we are in the era of the hipster and craft cocktail renaissance, they have come back into vogue. The best part is that there are lots of uses for shrubs, and for those that are drinking a little bit of cider vinegar every day for the health benefits - a shrub is a delicious way to do that. They can also be combined with olive oil for a wonderful summer salad dressing, or added to water or soda for drinking. There are a great many classic cocktail recipes around that call for shrubs, and now you will know how to make your own!
When researching how to make shrubs, I found several methods. You can combine the fruit and sugar and cook it, strain it, and add the vinegar.  Or you can use the cold method that I will detail below and it really makes the fruit flavors brighter. Also - this is a great way to use fruit that is a little too ripe, or as in the strawberry one I made, use the tops (even the green part!) that you would ordinarily just discard.
1 Cup Fresh Fruit (I made 4 batches; Strawberry, Cherry, Peach, & Blueberry/Basil)
1 Cup of Sugar 
1 Cup Cider Vinegar

Yep, that's it.  
Cut up the fresh fruit, it doesn't have to be pretty, fancy, or even peeled.
Put it into a large jar with the sugar.
At this point you can mash it, or just put the lid on it and shake it.
Put in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
The sugar will break down the fruit and become a syrup
After it has had time to break down, put the syrup and fruit through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup. I used a wooden "muddler" to press out all of the syrup, but you could just as easily use a wooden spoon.
Once you have collected all of the syrup, add 1 cup of cider vinegar for every one cup of fruit, and stir.
Place into jars or bottles and keep in a cool dry place or refrigerate for longer lasting results.
Although they are amazingly tasty at this point, it is good to let the flavors "marry" by letting them sit for another 24 hours at least. 
Be adventurous! I added basil to the blueberry one and think it may very well be  my favorite.  Next up is Plum Rosemary.   
At the moment, I've mixed the peach one with a bit of soda water and ice and it is delicious and refreshing. I can't wait to use them in dressings, marinades, and even a classic cocktail or two!
From left to right; Blueberry Basil, Cherry, Strawberry, and Peach Shrubs

No comments:

Post a Comment