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.
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.
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.
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?