Mike and myself do a lot of events and love to talk about drinks and drink history with as many people as will stop and listen to us. When we first started, awareness of these drinks was almost non-existent and then over the first year we started to meet more and more people who had heard of these drinks and had tried making their own. We heard from a lot of people that they had tried and it didn’t turn out well. Shrubs are very forgiving and we wanted to tell everyone how to make one and encourage people to have a go at their very own Shrub.
As mentioned above Shrubs are very forgiving, and have only three basic components. First you need vinegar, in our products we sell to stores and restaurants we use Organic apple cider vinegar and Balsamic vinegar. In our shrubs we make at home we have tried a lot of different vinegar's (Red wine, Rice, Chinkiang, and Champagne vinegar's to name a few). A sweetener, we often use Organic cane sugar but have also used Honey and Maple syrup. The last component of a Shrub is the fruit. The part of making Shrubs at home that we like the most is experimenting with the fruit flavours. The fruits you are using don’t need to be pretty and can be bruised and a little past their best, I like to use fruits as ripe as possible and whatever is in season.
This finally brings us to the method, of which there are two main ways of making Shrubs: hot and cold. For all of our Shrubs we retail we use the cold method, this basically is mixing the ingredients together sugar and fruit first, the sugar will draw the fruit juice out of the fruit and then adding the vinegar and letting this breakdown the fruit and dissolve the sugar. This method will give you the most nutrient rich version of a Shrub, and also gives you the freshest taste of the fruit. This method takes the longest to make depending on the flavor we have tried, it has taken anywhere from 3 to 7 days. The hot method is much faster and we typically only heat them enough to melt the sugar, these are typically ready in 24 hours. The interesting thing about the hot method is it can change the flavor of the fruit significantly for me this is most noticeable with Apples, cold method gives a lovely fresh, crisp apple flavor. Hot method gives a delicious comforting baked apple flavor. Both are good and it really depends on the flavor profile you are looking for your drink.
For this time of year I am going for a version of an Apple Cranberry Shrub using the hot method this recipe is a really nice festive flavor as we are coming into Thanksgiving and Christmas, we typically make our own private stash at this time of year as they can be good host gifts at impromptu holiday season get together's, and they also make for a nice drink for the designated drivers out there.
600 ml Organic Apple cider vinegar
600 ml Apple Juice
1 Cinnamon Stick
60 g Ginger
200 g Sugar
500 g Cranberries
Method: Start by putting the Apple juice in a saucepan and starting to heat, you are not looking to boil the apple juice just dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is all dissolved I keep it on a low heat while I chop peel and chop the apples and chop the ginger and put in the saucepan followed by the Cranberries, and Cinnamon stick. I keep them on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Then remove from the burner and once cool I add the Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I usually let it sit for 12 - 24 hours and let the fruit steep. Then strain and store in a bottle in the fridge. I have tried this cocktail just with sparkling water and also in cocktails with Vodka, Gin and Rye.
Don’t be afraid to try different fruits as well the possibilities are endless, if it hasn’t turned out as expected you can still tweak it. If it is to vinegar forward just add a touch more sugar or fruit, too sweet, add a little more vinegar. We will visit making a Shrub with cold process in the new year. If you have a go making your own Shrub send us a picture and tell us what you did, we love seeing what you come up with.
Until the next time, cheers.