It’s always happy hour when there’s shrub in the fridge!
By this point in the summer, lemonade seems like old news and water just seems like such a boring way to stay hydrated! I’ve been kicking back with some homemade drinks using shrubs – a fruit-infused drinking vinegar. This shrub recipe is great for mixing with sparkling water for a homemade soda or you can use it for a deliciously unique cocktail mixer.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking harsh distilled white vinegar in your drinks here. Shrub is made with vinegars that are easier on the palate – apple cider most commonly, but also champagne, rice wine, or coconut. Sugar is used to sweeten and coax the fruit’s natural juices out, and then the vinegar is added and the sugar dissolves into a tart, yet sweet little concentrate.
Cherry Vanilla Shrub
• 1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup coconut vinegar (feel free to substitute apple cider vinegar)
• 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
Note: There are infinite flavor combinations you can try with shrub between different fruit and vinegar combinations and any added herbs or spices. I generally just rely on the fruit and vinegar for flavor, but I was jonesing for something cherry vanilla flavored so I added some vanilla into this batch.
1. Put the chopped cherries into a glass or porcelain bowl. Avoid metal and plastic for this – they can alter the flavor.
2. Pour the sugar evenly over the fruit. You will probably not be able to see the fruit through the sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
3. When the sugar in the bowl has turned mostly to liquid (this can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days) remove from the refrigerator.
Tip: Depending on the type of fruit you use the process can take anywhere from half a day to a week. I’ve had juicy berries like strawberries ready for shrub within four hours, whereas things like cherries take quite a bit longer to break down. Blackberries and raspberries can just be squished to start releasing the juices and strawberries can be cut into quarters, but with less juicy fruits like cherries, cut them into smaller pieces to help speed up the process.
4. Place a fine mesh sieve over a measuring cup and pour the fruit and sugar mixture in.
5. Use the back of a serving spoon to squeeze any extra liquid out of the fruit and then throw the remains away.
6. There may be some sugar left in the bottom of the bowl the fruit was originally in. Scrape this into the measuring cup with the fruit juice.
7. Add the vinegar to the fruit juice. Whisk to mix and dissolve any remaining sugar.
8. Stir in the vanilla paste or extract. If you use paste for a richer flavor, like I did, you will have to give the bottle of shrub a good shake before each use, as the vanilla settles during storage.
9. Transfer to a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.
How to prepare a drink with your shrub: Pour approximately ¼ inch of shrub into a glass and then fill with cold sparkling water. Adjust to taste. Add approximately a tablespoon of shrub into a cocktail. A little goes a long way!
The shrub trend is really starting to catch fire around cocktail bars, and it’s super easy to make for yourself at home. It’s a great way to take advantage of fresh seasonal produce and also use up any fruit that might be hitting that mushy stage where it hasn’t spoiled yet, but is sort of texturally unpleasant to eat. The fruit itself ends up thrown out with shrub and the vinegar preserves the juice, so it will keep for an extremely long time in the refrigerator.
Bring your shrub to a party with a large bottle of sparkling water, or give some as a gift with some cocktail supplies. Now go wow some folks with your beverage making abilities!
Readers – have you sipped a shrub cocktail yet? What did you think?
photos: Heather for we heart this