This summer I decided to finally try my hand on making shrubs. No, not this sort of shrub.
The shrub I refer to is the vinegar based drink that dates back to colonial America (though the actual term shrub dates back to 17th and 18th century England and refers to a fruit liqueur).
To make a shrub you need three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and a type of vinegar. Each recipe varies, but the results are the same: a mixture you can add to cocktails, water, or my preferred method, carbonated water.
Now, I should note, if you do not like vinegar (I have a number of friends who fall into this category), then a shrub may not be for you. For the rest of you, I hope you will give this recipe or another of your choice a try. I was introduced to shrubs a few years ago in Los Angeles. A guy brought them to a friends' party and from there my friends starting making their own, wonderful creations.
I am not sure what took me so long to make my own, but I am glad that Dietsch's Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Shrub was my first.
The recipe is simple:
1.5 cups (8 ounces) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Combined strawberries and sugar into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or move to a container you can seal. Then place in the refrigerator. Let the strawberries and sugar macerate (which means to soften) for at least two hours up to a day (I opted for the 24 hour approach).
After you let the mixture macerate, strain through a fine-mesh strainer. You can mash the strawberries to remove as much liquid as possible. You basically want to remove the solids (which make a great ice cream topper - waste not, want not).
The next step is to add the balsamic vinegar. If you have any undissolved sugar, whisk the mixture a little to incorporate it.
Lastly, store your syrup-vinegar mixture in a clean container in your refrigerator for up to a week before using.
That's it. You officially have made your first shrub.
Now, you might be asking what to do with it? Well, may I suggest the simplest way: Strawberry Soda.
All you need is carbonated water. Add 1-2 tablespoons (depending on your preference) of shrub to a glass of carbonated water. Note: do this carefully otherwise you will have a volcanic eruption on your hands and a mess of strawberry flavored water to clean up.
And that's it. It's refreshing, tasty, and perfect for a summer day. You can find tons of other recipes online or you can even have fun experimenting and making up your own.