I have a deep respect for vinegar. I’ve been known to dip fresh bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle malt vinegar on my french fries, use rice vinegar in my quick and easy dipping sauce, or even use apple cider vinegar as a beauty treatment in my trusted baking soda-vinegar clarifying shampoo. Despite this deep appreciation for vinegar and its ability to take a dish up a notch, I cannot get behind the idea of drinking 2 tablespoons a day as a dietary supplement. Even with the addition of honey and long list of supposed health benefits, the idea of drink apple cider vinegar in my morning glass of water makes my stomach do flip-flops.
Those were the same flip-flops my stomach did when I read this article about making a shrub syrup at home. Shrubs, originally brought stateside by English colonists, are a method of preserving seasonal fruits for year round consumption as a fruit syrup mixed with vinegar. The addition of vinegar, as in pickling, allows the fresh fruit juice to sit for months before going bad. Even with the addition of ripe sweetened fruit, drinking vinegar still seems yucky. But I wouldn’t be a good cook, foodie, or blogger if I didn’t occasionally go out on a limb and giving something new and wacky a try.
A shrub can be made with any type of berry, stone fruit, or other fleshy fruit; any type of vinegar; and any type of sugar. I knew from the start that I wanted to stick with apple cider vinegar for 2 reasons: (1) its proclaimed health benefits, and (2) apple cider vinegar would likely provide a smoother flavor than white vinegar at a cheaper cost than champagne or wine-based vinegar. I chose peaches because we are at the height of peach season and I was at the farmer’s market late in the afternoon – the perfect conditions for some respectful price haggling. I brought the price of my locally grown, organic peaches down from $2.59/lb to $1.75/lb – almost 33% discount. Of course it helps that the farmer was less than inclined to take the produce back home and I had picked out some pretty rough looking peaches. Because the fruit get macerated and turned into a syrup, feel free to pick out a few less than perfect specimens and barter the price down a few nickles 🙂
1.5 lb peeled & pitted ripe peaches
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 pint organic apple cider vinegar
1) Place peaches, rosemary, and sugar in a large sauce pan. Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon macerate the peaches and sugar, forming a thick liquid.
2) Turn stove burner on medium heat and heat peaches until just beginning to bubble. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 to 20 minutes.
3) Using a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer, carefully separate the syrup from the “solid” mush left behind. Discard the peach mush and funnel syrup into a sterile glass container* (a 1 pint mason jar would work well, I used an old fashion milk bottle with cap I have).
4) Add 1 pint of organic apple cider, close with sterilized lid and place in the fridge.
*To sterilize your storage container, wash it and the lid in hot soapy water and rinse well. Fill the container with boiling water and let it sit while you prepare the shrub. Meanwhile bring a small pot of water, enough to cover the lid, to a boil. When the shrub is ready, empty the water from the bottle, add the shrub, and dip your lid in boiling water for about 30 seconds before putting on the container. Store in the fridge.
The simplest way to enjoy your shrub is chilled with soda water. Its a sweet-tart, bubbly treat that is wonderful on the last warm days of summer. Just add a couple ounces to a glass of soda water, stir, and sip. Just make sure to always shake vigorously before using, otherwise you’ll get nothing more than a mouthful of vinegar.
If you want something a bit stronger, I played around with my liquor cabinet and came up with this gem, which I decided to call the Amber Strumpet. The name of the drink was the hardest part of the development part: amber was easy, look at the color. After my second glass, the sweet-tart makes me think of the personality of a “strumpet.” I do this all for you 😉
1.5 ounces peach-rosemary shrub
1 ounce Art in the Age Snap Liquor
Pour the liquor and shrub in a glass over ice and stir to combine. Top with club soda and enjoy.