Shrub Syrups or Drinking Vinegars

blueberriesmintI needed a little convincing that drinking vinegar could be refreshing and good, and so Lisby set me up with a blackberry, lavender, and vanilla shrub that she had brewed up. So refreshing. And, it turns out, good for you. Good-bye Cola. Hello Shrub Syrups!

glassDrinking vinegars have been around for centuries. Middle Eastern cultures added vinegar solutions to water them to purify water. Sailors brought along syrups of alcohol and citrus fruit to help prevent scurvy. Settlers in America got more creative, combining various fruits with different vinegars, sweeteners and herbs. They’ve made a comeback, and, added to sparkling  water (and if desired, a splash of gin or whiskey), create a wonderfully refreshing summer beverage.

Directions for how to make these syrups vary. The cold processing seems preferred by those who want to retain the full flavor of the fruit. But even cold processing directions vary. I followed the directions given by Imbibe although the Farmer’s Almanac and others would have you blend the fruit and sugar for a day first, and then add the vinegar.bigjar

 

Blueberry Mint Shrub

Rinse 2 cups of blueberries and a hearty sprig of mint and put into a clean quart jar.

Add 2 cups of Apple Cider vinegar (experiment with other vinegars, but keep in mind which vinegars might best compliment which fruits. I’m told strawberry and balsamic make a good combo–but even then, use 1 1/2 c. balsamic and 1/2 apple cider or another milder vinegar). Close it up and give it a good shake (about 10 seconds).

jarberriesSet on the counter and shake it once a day for a week.

shrubStrain the juice through a double layer of cheesecloth into a CLEAN jar. Add 1-2 c. of sugar. I went on the lighter end because, as Lisby says, you can always sweeten something more later, it’s hard to sweeten it less. Shake well.

Refrigerate for at least a week, shaking daily, before imbibing.

TO MIX: Add 1 part syrup and 4-5 parts water, sparkling water, or Club soda to a glass full of ice. Adjust ratio to taste. If desired add a splash of gin or whiskey.

Best stored in the fridge and used within six months.

NOTE: Shrubs also make a great vinegar base for salad dressings.

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I also made a Bing Cherry, Vanilla, and Maple Shrub and sweetened it with 1/2 c. maple syrup and 1/2 c. sugar. (I had some vanilla beans that I’d used once already to make vanilla. I tossed about 3 into the jar at the first step.) More experimenting to follow!

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