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On Trend Heirloom Recipe: Get Your Shrub On!

What the heck is a shrub?? A drinking shrub is a refreshingly bold, tart and sweet drink made from macerated fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Sounds a bit strange? You bet, but it makes the most delicious and refreshing summer mocktails and cocktails ever. It’s drinking a summer berry harvest, meets a bite of vinegar, meets seltzer water (and maybe some booze!) for an icy cup of seasonal sweetness. Shrubs date back to the 15th century and have been used as everything from medicine to recipe ingredients. These days, they’re popping up more and more on chic cocktail menus as well as in sauces at some of the finest restaurants. I was a bit skeptical at first before turning my kitchen into a bit of a science experiment, and was pleasantly thrilled with the outcome. After some tweaks and tooling, two syrups stood out above the rest, and have claimed a permanent summer residence in my fridge. Here’s the low down!

First up, let’s make the syrups. There is a hot process and a cold process way of making shrubs, but I found the cold process way much easier and the fruit taste more fresh and less jam like. The syrups are the base of your shrub drink, and once made they will keep for months in the fridge, getting better with age, making this an excellent and healthier substitute to sugary sodas for your fizzy drink fix. For the two syrups, you will need these ingredients:

Raspberry Rose Shrub (makes approx 2 cups):

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried red rose buds and/or petals
  • 1-2 cups apple cider vinegar

Blackberry Basil Shrub (makes approx 2 cups)

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cups apple cider vinegar

Method:

  1. Pick which shrub you would like to make, and in a small bowl, mix everything together except the vinegar. You will add that later.
  2. Cover your bowl and set it into the fridge to fully macerate. This will take approx 2-4 days. To help the process, give it a good stir each day to keep the liquid moving a bit.
  3. Once you see that your berries have become liquid, using a fine mesh sieve, drain your berry mixture into a glass ball jar or other container and discard the solids.
  4. Now, add in your Apple Cider Vinegar. This is a matter of preference here, most recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to berry syrup, so if you like a stronger shrub do this, but I found that adding about 1 ½ cups of vinegar was about perfect.
  5. Boom, your shrub is done! It will taste strong and tart at first, but gets mellower and develops deeper flavor the longer it sits in the refrigerator.

I Made It! Now What?

Now you can get creative! For a tasty mocktail, add 2-3 tbsp of syrup over ice and top with seltzer, club soda, or Tonic water, adjusting the syrup as necessary to your desired sweetness. For summer cocktails, do the same, but add in a 1.5 oz of Vodka, or Gin, or Bourbon, they go so well with both these syrups! Cheers!

Notes:

DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE HERE!

All photos by Marla Smith Photography

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