I’m a huge fan of the sweet-tart flavor of kombucha, so the first time I tried a shrub (a vinegar and fruit syrup based soda, not to be mistaken for a woody plant!!) at Baco Mercat, I was hooked. And when I find something new that I like, I immediately research everything under the sun about it. Well let’s be real, I probably Googled shrub recipes to learn about the history and the process.
Shrub syrups are the perfect way to preserve an abundance of fruit or use up blemished farmer’s market seconds. Plum and Asian pear have been in the regular rotation at Julie’s Kitchen; my parents have those trees in their yard and either I get the overflow of fruit or the birds do. I choose me! So since I’ve been making shrubs for a few years now, I don’t use a recipe any more, so I thought I’d share the process here. You can make shrubs with as much or as little fruit as you have on hand and nearly any type. Go crazy with the combinations too. There aren’t any rules here and the syrups are quite forgiving. Pictured above are lemondrop melon-jalapeno and watermelon-ginger.
Here’s the process:
1. Cut up fruit into 1/4″ pieces. Remove cores, pits, stems, seeds–basically any part you wouldn’t eat. Raspberries and blueberries can be left whole.
2. Mix the fruit with sugar–each piece of fruit should be coated with about 1/2 centimeter of sugar at least. I use organic cane sugar. Then I give it a good muddling to give the syrup a head start. The fruit will start releasing juices immediately and time will do the rest of the work.
3. Cover and refrigerate for a few days. Be patient.
4. Strain the syrupy fruit through a fine wire meshed strainer.
5. Add vinegar at a roughly 1:1 ratio of syrup and vinegar. I use apple cider vinegar, but you could use any kind, though you may need to adjust the ratio for milder vinegars like rice wine.
6. Taste. Keep in mind that the tartness and sweetness will mellow out over time, so the shrub syrup should taste a little more tart and sweet than you like–for now.
7. Be patient again! Refrigerate the shrub syrup for at least 1 week.
8. To serve. Pour about 1 part shrub syrup to 3 parts soda water over ice. If you want to make it boozy, replace one of those parts of soda water with a spirit of your choice.