Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fruit Shrub: Strawberry and Blueberry

Captain's Log

Don't worry I will explain all of this

I've been experimenting with shrubs for a little while, and I thought it might be fun to share those ventures. It all started, for me, in a restaurant: I saw that a concord grape "drinking vinegar" soda was available. I ordered it, and it blew my mind how refreshing it was. Sure, it was a little sour, but only in the sense that it woke me up. It was sweet and fruity and fizzy.. perfect for a hot hot day. This was in December, mind you, but I have a pretty solid imagination.

Quick definitions: A "shrub" is a drink, usually made from fruit, flavored with sugar and vinegar. It's a very old style of drink, harkening back to days without refrigeration, when pickling foods allowed people to enjoy seasonal produce year round. Shrubs can involve just fruit (like blackberries), or the addition of herbs (rosemary?), or roots (ginger). One can also play with the type of vinegar, as some are gentler/sweeter/fruitier than others. There are infinite combinations!

I've been following these directions, using the cold method. I took two cups total of cut strawberries and blueberries...
and added two cups of sugar...
it fits!
I mushed the blueberries so they'd pop, and I stirred everything around until I felt all the fruit had access to sugar. I also added two cloves and some lemon and orange peels for more flavor.
Then I let it sit in the refrigerator. I tasted a strawberry after the first day and was surprised at how strong the citrus flavor was, so I picked out the lemon and orange peels and discarded them to prevent over-saturation. Here's the fruit after two whole days. Look at all that sugary juice!
Next I strained the fruit using some cheesecloth that my prescient soon-to-be mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. Thanks!
Sorry for the terrible shot, but this was a pretty sticky operation. Haaaaa...  Anyway after two rounds of straining (the blueberry seeds were a pill), I moved everything to a larger bowl:
..and I scraped in that undissolved sugar
And then I added two cups of apple cider vinegar. The result? A super tangy, sweet, fruity syrup. I'm letting this sit in the fridge for a few weeks so all the flavors can get to know each other and mellow out.

A month or so ago I did this with just white vinegar and strawberries...
Left: strawberries and white vinegar.
Right: strawberries, blueberries, clove, lemon peel, orange peel, and apple cider vinegar.
Look at the color difference! Isn't it neat?

In terms of actual use, for the plain strawberry shrub, I mixed it with Wild Turkey, soda water, and ice, and it was completely amazing. I'll do the same with the strawberry/blueberry shrub for a one-to-one comparison. I bet the apple cider vinegar will be a little tastier.

Aaand here's a photo of the strawberry/blueberry shrub, diluted with soda water:
super refreshing
At the time this photo was taken, the shrub had aged maybe two weeks. It's definitely drinkable just like this, but it still has a little vinegary burn to it.

Here's a shot of the diluted shrub next to the pure syrup, for color comparisons.

I'd like to try this with blackberries and raspberries, maybe with a touch of cinnamon or ginger. And peaches when they're in season!

But I would love to hear ideas from my readers... Any suggestions? What sounds tasty and refreshing to you?

Oh, and all that leftover sugary fruit? 
Delicious on ice cream, yogurt, or cereal.


  1. How very interesting! You know, this would be a GREAT Father's AfterDay present! I'm just saying......

  2. Will consider doing this sometime...does look so refreshing!
    But alas, I am currently occupied focusing on restocking the frig and freezer after the power was down due to a storm.