When berry season is upon us vines drip with luscious, tender, delectable and antioxidant-rich candies. The only downside to the berry harvest is that it can’t last forever, so you’ve got to use ‘em while you can and find ways to store them for winter sweetness. A shrub — from the Arabic ‘sharab’ or ‘drink’ — is a tart, acidic syrup that was popular in Colonial times. Use it throughout the year to add that fresh-picked berry taste to cocktails and homemade sodas, without the heavy sweetness of conventional syrups. This is also a great way to use overripe or bruised fruit. Have fun and experiment with the unique flavor.
- 1 cup berries or fruit of any kind, the riper the better
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
Add the berries and sugar to a bowl, and stir them to mix in the sugar. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for two to three days. It will macerate, creating a syrup.
Pour the syrup through a strainer into a second bowl. Press on the berries with a spoon to squeeze out all the syrup. Scrape any remaining sugar into the second bowl.
Add the vinegar and whisk the mixture well. Pour into a bottle that seals tightly, and close it up. Shake the bottle well, then set it back in the fridge for at least two weeks before using.
Once you’ve made a basic shrub, experiment with different fruits, vinegars and additives. For example, this black cherry balsamic shrub adds peppercorn and cinnamon. For a more guy-friendly drink, try this Charentes shrub cocktail, which combines a rosemary-pineapple shrub with whiskey and beer.
Love the combination of berries with vinegar? Try this strawberry rose geranium ice cream with a balsamic drizzle.
image: Susy Morris.