Make our Own Shrub at Home!

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November 23, 2018

What is a shrub? The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America. By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration. (wikipedia) 

But, for many reasons, shrubs have made a big comeback in the past 10 years. Primarily, they are a great way to use up fresh and seasonal produce when it’s coming in faster than you can process it. If you have a backyard peach tree, you will be amazed at how easily you can capture the flavor of a fresh peach and enjoy it throughout the winter. It’s easier to make than jams or jellies, and can be used with your favorite liquor in an impressive mixed drink or, you can use shrub syrup with a simple carbonated water for an insanely fancy-tasting and hydrating beverage.

At Pretoria Fields, we had over 3,000 lbs of organic blackberries and blueberries that were ripe in the summer. We use these berries in our Farmhouse Berry Gose, but we had many more of them at one time than we could put into the summer batches of Gose. And so, out of necessity, our House Shrub was born. (We eventually decided to purchase extra deep freezers and a vacuum sealer in order to preserve about 2,000 lbs of the berries for future Gose and shrub batches)

Here’s our simple process and recipe for making shrub syrup, which can kept in a closed container in your fridge for up to 6 months. (Many experience shrub makers will tell you that there is really no expiration date as long as it is kept in refrigeration, and the flavors will simply soften and change slightly over time.)

8 cups of berries – which will be 1/2 blackberries and 1/2 blueberries

1.5 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/8 of a cup of lemon juice

Procedure:

For 8 cups of berries, use 1.5 Cups organic sugar
Macerate/muddle this – make as much of a puree as possible
Leave it to sit in a fridge for 3-4 days
(also really yummy to add mint and basil!)
Then, Use a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer OR a food mill/ jam sieve set over a clean bowl to get as much liquid away from the berry pulp and seeds as possible. I work in small amounts – about 2-3 cups at a time.
The final recipe for the “shrub” is:
For every 6 cups of berry syrup, add:
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 Cup Lemon Juice
You can always increase or decrease vinegar and lemon juice to get your perfect sweet and tart combo!

No Dams Given Episode 7

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