Shrubs are a food that sort of snuck up on me. I first heard about them via Food In Jars, and my first reaction was to recoil in fear. Really? You want me to drink fruit spiked vinegar? That sounds…horrible.
Then the thought started brewing the back of my head when I was looking at Kevin West’s book, where he actually addresses them. I started looking at Pinterest and decided that I’m probably the last person on the shrub bandwagon.
But what is a shrub? A shrub is essentially fruit preserved in vinegar and sugar, then the syrup is diluted with water or spirits and consumed. It’s sort of like a proto-koolaide, if you don’t add a lot of sugar to the powder. They were consumed with some frequency during the Colonial period, but originated elsewhere.
From what I can tell, there are only three things necessary to create a shrub: vinegar, fruit, and sugar. The ratios seem to vary depending on what you’re trying to create (or who you talk to).
Since everyone seems to agree that vinegar + fruit + sugar = shrub, I sort of threw them all together. I had an open jar of whole berry cranberry sauce, which has a fair amount of syrup, a bottle with a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a clean jar. I put several spoonfuls of syrup, glugged in some vinegar, and filled it the rest of the way with water.
It’s…not bad. It actually is really good. I do much prefer it iced or very cold, but I can actually get used to this. I would like to try the process that Rustic Kitchen and other blogs talk about, where you macerate the fruit and then add the vinegar directly but West’s version of adding the syrup to the vinegar is nice because I tend to can up fruit syrups.