Summer Shrub Recipes

Capture the hedgerow in a drink

Shrub, a vinegar-based cordial whose history we covered in the last post, is extremely easy to make. All you need is three ingredients, and you don’t even have to turn on the hob. Simply combine fruit, sugar, and vinegar — then wait, then strain, then enjoy!

Below is a basic recipe to get you started. More complicated versions do exist, such as that detailed by Max Miller in the shrub history video referenced in my last post.

Using a high-quality flavoured vinegar in your shrub, like those made by the Artisan Vinegar Company, allows you to easily up the shrub ante. Here are some fruit-vinegar shrub flavour combinations that I have tried with success:

  • Rhubarb with strawberry vinegar (a classic flavour combination)
  • Blackberries with damson vinegar (this has the most beautiful — and most stain-generating — colour)
  • Ripe plums/greengages with cider vinegar (an unusual flavour that would be nice infused with warming spices)

For the basic shrub recipe, you will need

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup fruit*

1 cup vinegar**

Instructions

In a bowl, bash the fruit up with the sugar and mix until well combined. If you're using fruit that isn’t soft like berries, chop it up finely first. Leave to sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the fruit to release its juices.

Stir together with the vinegar in a decently sized jar. Cover and let sit in the fridge, stirring occasionally, for at least 3 days. Strain when the flavour is to your liking, and continue to store in the fridge.

Serve diluted in sparkling water (or sparkling wine) or use in a cocktail or mocktail, a salad dressing, or whatever else takes your fancy.

Notes

* The fruit should ideally be smashable/mushable, but choppable also works — I’m using rhubarb in the photos. Tart, liquidy fruit is good; berries are traditional and leech their flavour easily. However, feel free to try your hand at a banana shrub!

** Choose a vinegar with a flavour complementary to your fruit, or else a relatively neutral one. Just don’t use distilled white industrial vinegar — the flavour is not up to scratch.

— Beatrix Swanson

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