Sweet, sour and super trendy, shrubs are appearing on high-class cocktail menus all over the country. Shaken at the hands of mixology experts, these fruit-infused vinegars impart vibrant flavors that intrigue the palate. Tart and intense, shrubs are a tasty way to perk up cocktails – and they can also be used in cooking.
Creating your own shrubs from scratch is easy, although you’ll need to allow two weeks for the fermentation process to set. Like all canning processes, this recipe requires a clean, sanitized workspace – any bacteria around will thwart the process. Wash the canning jar and all your utensils in hot, soapy water. Rinse them in a diluted bleach solution (2 quarts water to 1 tablespoon bleach), rinse again in tap water, then let everything air-dry on a cooling rack before you begin.
1 quart canning jar with wide mouth
1 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger with peeling scraped off with a spoon
4 large oranges
1 ¾ cups raw coconut vinegar (or raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar)
1 cup fresh lime juice (from 8-9 limes)
1 cup unrefined cane sugar
1. First you’ll need to “supreme” your oranges. Using a paring knife, cut off the outer rind and membranes. Next, cut the inside segments out of their membranes. Your goal is to get rid of all the seeds, pith, peeling and membranes. Cut your fruit over a bowl and save the juice for later.
2. Put your ginger slices in the canning jar and mash them with a pestle (or wooden spoon) until they are fragrant and their juices are released.
3. Now add your orange supremes to the canning jar, along with the juice you saved. Pour in enough vinegar to cover the fruit, then close the lid tightly and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
4. Unscrew the lid and replace with a piece of cheesecloth, securing it with the jar ring or a rubber band. You’ll want to make sure that the fruit pieces stay covered with vinegar during this entire process. Leave the mixture at room temperature for 12 hours.
5. Take off the cheesecloth and discard. Replace the lid and seal it tightly.
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6. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then let the jar sit for 24 hours at room temperature.
7. Repeat step #6 for seven days.
8. Pour the fruit mixture through a strainer into a bowl to remove the solid pieces, which you can keep to use in a chutney, salsa or tangy relish.
9. Return the liquid to your jar and add the lime juice and sugar. Replace the lid and shake until the sugar dissolves, about 2-3 minutes.
10. Refrigerate for seven days, shaking the jar vigorously once per day.
11. After one week, your shrub will be ready! Always shake the shrub before using, and keep it refrigerated. Experiment with your hand at mixology: try orange ginger shrub cocktails, use it as a glaze for seafood or with olive oil in salad dressings. Your shrub will become more syrupy in time, and it will stay good for up to 4 months.
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Image: quinn anya