Shrubs - the most refreshing summer sipper
Let’s get right down to it: no, we don’t know why they share a name with Hydrangeas and Dogwoods, but we’re fans of both so that must be a good sign. Shrubs are, at the most basic level, a simple way to preserve fruit. When they were most widely used, (think colonial times) this was pretty important, seeing as refrigeration wouldn’t come around for another couple hundred years. The addition of sugar and acid (in the form of vinegar) helps to preserve the fruit long after it would normally go bad. Which brings us to the other name for a shrub: “Drinking Vinegar.”
Yes, the idea of a “drinking vinegar” can be a little scary for some, but it’s all about balance. The addition of sugar works to balance out the acidity from the vinegar, so what we’re really making here is a “drinking vinegar syrup.” Doesn’t that sound a little bit better? These syrups are both sweet and tart, which loosely translates to “super refreshing summer sipper,” and even more loosely translates to “all your friends will be super impressed.”
There are a few different methods to making shrubs, the quickest and easiest being to add your ingredients together in a pan and bring it to a boil. There is nothing wrong with this hot process method, and, if you’re in a pinch, go for it. But if you have a little bit of extra time, and you really want to preserve that authentic fruit flavor, then you should try a cold process, one of which we’ll be covering below.
The beauty of a shrub is that the flavors can change with the season, or more specifically, what fruits are in season. The recipes below work as a template so you can substitute whatever fruits you have on hand. The next time you’re at the farmers market and something looks especially delicious, don’t forget that you can always turn that fruit into a shrub.
Peach and Pink Peppercorn Shrub
In a 32 ounce mason jar, add 2 cups of chopped peaches and fill the rest of the jar with apple cider vinegar. Let rest for 24 hours. In a blender, add all contents of the mason jar, 2 cups of sugar and 1 tablespoon of pink peppercorns. Blend until combined. Let rest, and strain through a sieve. Refrigerate to store for up to one year.
Honeydew and Cantaloupe Shrub
In a 32 ounce mason jar add 2 cups of chopped honeydew and 2 cups of chopped cantaloupe, fill the rest of the jar with sweet and tangy rice wine vinegar. Let rest for 24 hours.
In a blender add all contents of the mason jar, and 3 cups of sugar. Blend until combined. Let rest, and strain through a sieve. Refrigerate to store for up to one year.
1.5 ounce Watershed vodka
1 ounce Peach and Pink Peppercorn Shrub
.5 ounce lemon juice
Add all ingredients over ice in a collins glass, top with soda and briefly stir to mix. Garnish with a lemon wheel and pink peppercorn.
1.5 ounce Watershed vodka
1 ounce Honeydew and Cantaloupe Shrub
.5 punce lime juice
Add all ingredients over ice in an old fashioned glass. Stir to mix, and garnish with a salted piece of melon.