Tag Archives | shrub

Drink Week: Blueberry Ginger Shrub

My contribution to Drink Week 2012 (an event I organized!), a batch of Blueberry Ginger Shrub, is embarrassingly tardy. However, since I regularly operate under the principle that late is better than nothing at all, here’s my concoction. 

I’ve been smitten with shrubs since I made my first one last summer. Shrubs are a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. Left to sit for a few days (or even longer), they develop a deep, sweet-tart flavor that I’ve come to crave. I most often use mine by stirring a splash into fizzy water, but they are also terrific in cocktails.

pouring apple cider vinegar

The nice thing about making shrubs is that they’re easy and keep for a very, very long time in cold storage. My kind of preservation project. It’s a very basic combination of mashed fruit, sugar and vinegar. The regular proportion is that you use equal parts of all ingredients, but I like to tweak it ever so slightly. To that end, I use a little extra fruit, cut back on the sugar a bit and keep the vinegar strong (I like puckery things).

Most of the time, I make a very basic shrub. My thinking has always been that I didn’t want to dilute the strong fruit flavor. But blueberries go so nicely with ginger, and I had a little chunk of fresh ginger kicking around the kitchen. I may never go back to the plain version.

grating ginger

To make this particular shrub, I tumbled a heaping cup of blueberries into the bottom of a quart jar and covered them with 3/4 cup granulated white sugar. Using a muddler, I smashed until the blueberries were a sweet, pulpy mess.

I added one cup of unfiltered apple cider vinegar and swirled the jar to help it incorporate. Finally, I grated a 2-inch piece of ginger directly over the jar (there was some spillage) and stirred one last time. After that, the jar went into the fridge to rest. While this no-cook process takes a little longer than one where you apply heat, I find that it just tastes better.

blueberry ginger shrub

Once the fruit has steeped for a couple days, and there’s no sign of any granulated bits of sugar, you can strain your shrub. I simply pass mine through a fine mesh sieve, but it is imperfect and doesn’t catch every last fruit particle. I’m okay with this. However, if you’re more of a perfectionist than I, feel free to run it through a length of cheesecloth. Waste-averse often use the spent fruit pulp in muffins or smoothies. I manage that about half the time I make a shrub.

What fun fruit syrups, shrubs and cocktails have you been dreaming up lately?

 

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Preserves in Action: Pickled Cranberries

arugula salad with pickled cranberry vinaigrette

Over the weekend, I made a batch of pickled cranberries for my Serious Eats In a Pickle column. I figured it was a fun, seasonal pickle and a good one to feature in the days before Thanksgiving. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would rocket so quickly to the top of my favorite preserve list.

pickled cranberries

I made these on Sunday night and I’ve eaten them in one way or another everyday since. On Sunday, I realized that they were nothing so much as a chunky shrub (or drinking vinegar) and stirred them into a bit of sparkling water for a fancy “cocktail” to go with dinner (though I love a good, boozy drink, I have a teeny, tiny tolerance and so often skip the intoxicants).

On Monday, I whisked some of the cranberries into some olive oil and drizzled it over a mess of arugula and goat cheese and topped the whole thing with a big of not-very-sweet granola for some crunch. That’s the salad you see above. It was refreshing, filling and perfectly seasoned. I think it’s my new house vinaigrette.

pickled cranberries

Yesterday, I made little stacks of baguette, clothbound cheddar and pickled cranberries, for a sweet, savory, astringent snack. I’ve not eaten them yet today, but we have so many hours to go before bed. I’m sure I’ll work them in somehow. Tomorrow, they’re going on turkey.

If you still have time before Thanksgiving and want to sneak more more condiment on to the to-do list, I do recommend this one. However, even if you can’t imagine the idea of cramming even another thing into your pre-holiday plans, I still think you should make these pickled cranberries once turkey day has passed. They are my new favorite thing and I think they just might become yours as well.

 

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