Until last week the only kinds of shrubs I was aware of were of the bush/horticultural variety. All that changed when I read this blog post by Chez Moi. I now understand a shrub to be a fruity vinegar-ed syrup with which refreshing beverages, also known as shrubs, are made. It was an old time preservation method to extend the usefulness of fruits which would otherwise spoil quickly without refrigeration.
I had no sooner read Chez Moi’s post and another article which she referenced and set about making a batch of my own. In fact I was so impressed with a early sample of my first attempt that I started a second batch today.
It is no secret that I have difficulty adhering to recipes, and it was no different with this project. Sometimes I actually make an effort to follow instructions, but somewhere along the way I inevitably stop measuring and start estimating. Then before I know it I have substituted or added ingredients and deviated from recommended procedures. It’s not really rebellion against authority. I just can’t help it. Before recommending I go see someone keep in mind I am on a fixed income.
I didn’t start documenting the shrub I made last week until partway through the procedures so the photos I am using are from both first and second batches. Here is the way it happened:
I peeled the zest from a Cara Cara orange then broke from recommendations and also peeled the zest of a lime. Lime zest is not recommended because of their bitterness. I made an attempt at removing any wax from the rinds by pouring boiling water over and rubbing briskly with a towel. I’m not sure how effective that was, but whatever it is that will do me in in the end I don’t think it will be food grade wax.
The next step was to mash and bruise the citrus rinds with sugar to infuse the flavors into the sugar. In my first attempt last week I used Turbinado sugar. For the batch I started today I thought I would use unrefined dehydrated cane juice which, judging from the taste, is essentially granular or pelletized jaggery. But since the dehydrated cane juice doesn’t have a crystal consistency which aids in the expressing the oils from the rinds, I used 1/4 cup of the dehydrated cane juice and 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar crystals.
I used my bean masher to press, mash and grind the citrus peels into the sugar. The rinds and sugar were allowed to keep each other company while I prepared the fruit ingredients.
The fruit ingredients for the first batch of shrub were two limes, two Cara Cara oranges and two golden kiwis. This time I used one lime, two Cara Cara oranges, two green kiwis and, as an after thought, one Gala apple.
I put the prepared fruits into a canning jar and shook it vigorously with the intention of bruising the fruit. After mashing the citrus rinds into the sugar a few more times I rinsed the masher off with apple cider vinegar and poured the sugar and vinegar with the rinds into the jar of fruit.
The jar was only half full so I decided to add an apple to the mix. After shaking the jar vigorously to distribute the apples I went to work muddling the fruit with the masher.
The jar of fruit will spend the next day or so macerating in the refrigerator. Every now and then I will give it a good shake and maybe have another go with the masher. Then, as I did with the first batch, I will force the fruit pulp and liquid through a strainer. The flavors will then be adjusted by adding more apple cider vinegar if needed. After about a week in the refrigerator the bottled shrub will be ready for making beverages.
Although it hasn’t been quite a week since starting the first batch of shrub I couldn’t wait to sample it. Just a little of these concentrated flavors in the bottom of a glass and the rest filled with club soda or ice cold water is all it takes to make a refreshing beverage. A splash of gin didn’t harm the flavors at all either.