Making shrubs is easy, the flavor possibilities are endless, and it is a great way to preserve seasonal fruit. Tomatoes, cucumbers, chile peppers, beets, stone fruits, citrus, and berries all make wonderful options.
You can make shrubs through two methods, one cold and one hot. The hot method yields shrubs more quickly; the cold method can produce more complex flavors. Shrubs are a matter of ratio: 1:1:1—1 part fruit, 1 part sugar, and 1 part vinegar.
Most vinegar will work in shrubs. Think about how the fruit will pair with the vinegar flavor you select. Plain white vinegar can be too intense, but apple cider, white or red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or champagne vinegar work well. Balsamic adds incredible depth, but you only need a small amount, with the rest of the vinegar ratio being cider or wine vinegar.
Storage: Store shrub syrups in the refrigerator. Tightly sealed, they can last for up to 6 months, but if opened often, they last only 3–6 weeks. Taste syrup before using to make sure the flavor is still good. Discard immediately if it has mold or any signs of fermentation, such as bubbling, cloudiness, or sliminess.
For mocktail: Combine 1 1/2 ounces of a shrub with
4 ounces of soda water in a glass with ice.
Spike it: Add 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite spirit. Match the spirit to the shrub’s flavor profile. Vodka does little to alter the flavor of the shrub.
Beet and Coriander Shrub
- 5 small beets peeled and cut into small chunks
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Heat sugar and vinegar on the stove, constantly stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add beets, spices, and salt, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool completely.
- Strain out any solids through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Bottle in a sterile glass jar and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 2–4 days. Add sugar or vinegar to taste.
Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub
- 3/4 cups fresh strawberries stemmed and halved
- 3/4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
- In a medium, nonreactive bowl, combine the strawberries and rhubarb. Pour sugar on top and mix until sugar coats all fruit. Let mixture sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Mash fruit with a wooden spoon to break it up. Let sit for another hour.
- Mash fruit again until it is mushy. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Add in vinegar, stir, and let sit, covered, for 1 week, making sure to stir the mixture every day.
- After a week, strain the fruit by pouring through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Save the liquid in a sterilized Mason jar for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.