Thursday, July 14, 2016

Have You Ever Made a Shrub?

In the good old summertime, when the berries urge us to eat, jam, bake, repeat, our berry cravings also remind us how tasty and versatile shrubs are. Our first problem is never remembering which recipe to use and with all the recipes available on the internet, it can be a time consuming problem.
And that's the main reason for this post--to help me remember this reliable, informative link via Serious Eats. Enjoy:

How to Make a Shrub

Whether raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, or gooseberry, berries seem to fly through our local market, gone before you even know to miss them. I decided last year to preserve them for my future pleasure.

Now, this ain't Home Canning 101, so there'll be no jams, jellies, or marmalades here. I'm a cocktail geek; and among my clan there's a great love for shrub syrups, and that's what we'll be talking about today.

WHAT'S A SHRUB?
In beverage history, the word shrub has carried several meanings. For our purposes, it's enough to say that a shrub is an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients. Where things get complicated is that the acid varies by recipe; it can be either fruit juice or vinegar. Additionally, some shrub recipes are prepared using alcohol that steeps with the fruit, acid, and sugar. Finally, hardcore shrubbers make their own vinegar, using fruit juice, sugar, and wild yeasts from the air.
(to read more, click here)

COLD SHRUBBIN' WITH FLAVOR (one of 2 versions via Serious Eats)
"Now, the cold-process method of shrub-making is a little more complicated than the cooked method, but really, it's not much so. You don't need any special equipment or ingredients, and as long as you have space in your fridge to stash a bowl of fruit, you should be fine.

Let's begin:

Wash and prepare the fruit. Most berries can be lightly crushed, even with your hands, if you prefer. Strawberries should be hulled and quartered. Stone fruit needs to be quartered and pitted.
Cover the fruit with sugar. Neyah White recommends a ratio of one part each of fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and that's a great place to start. So to, say, one cup of fruit, add one cup sugar. Stir to combine, cover, and stash in the fridge.

After several hours, or a day or two, your fruit should be surrounded by juice and syrup, like so:

Strain the syrup away from the solids, pressing lightly on the solids to expel any stubborn juice. If any sugar is clinging to the bowl, scrape it into the syrup. It should settle to the bottom, underneath the syrup. This is fine, as I'll explain later.

Add the vinegar, and whisk to combine, until sugar is dissolved.
Pour through a funnel into a clean bottle. Cap, shake well, and refrigerate.
Check the shrub periodically. Some sugar may settle out onto the bottom of the bottle. If so, shake well to combine. Eventually, the acids in the juice and vinegar will dissolve the sugar.
Now taste. What you will undoubtedly find is that the aroma and flavor of your new shrub is pungent. You'll taste a strong tartness from the vinegar, a strong sweetness from the sugar, and the fruit flavor as an element that pulls everything together.

What fascinates me, at least, about shrubs is that they mellow with time. And I mean, they mellow a lot. The tartness and sweetness both remain, but they start to harmonize after just a few weeks in the fridge. So what you have is a lightly sweet and tart syrup with a rich fruit flavor."

3 comments:

Jill said...

I make mine with lemon and ginger, adding the ginger after the initial sugaring. But I leave all the fruit and ginger and sugar syrup to soak in the vinegar for a few days before straining. And I strain through cheesecloth.

I add mine to soda water. So good.

KandN said...

That sounds refreshing. Did you start making it recently?
I had the Botanicaltini at Taproot. It's made with a basil and (?) shrub. It was dangerously tasty.

Amy Young-Leith said...

Yep, I had one at Taproot, and was pleasantly surprised!