It’s summertime in Northern California which means it’s also SHRUB SEASON! (If you think I’m talking about hedges, please read on!)
Shrubs are a delicious, refreshing drink made with fruit and herb - infused vinegar. They are medicinal and very simple to make with household culinary items.
Shrubs can be made with almost any kind of fruit, but some are better suited than others. Fruits that are a little bit tart tend to work well, such as berries, nectarines, plums and citrus, but you can be creative and try out different ideas. This is also a great way to repurpose bruised fruit if you have abundant fruit trees or overripe fruit on your kitchen counter.
Any kind of vinegar can be used, but I prefer raw apple cider vinegar, both for its taste and medicinal qualities. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial and antioxidant effects and is known to have various other health benefits, such as aiding weight loss, reducing cholesterol and lowering blood sugar levels.
Please note: any kind of vinegar should be diluted with water before it is taken internally.
Below are a few examples of Herbal Shrub combinations I recommend:
Blackberry + Lavender
Nectarine + Chamomile
Strawberry + Basil
Watermelon + Cilantro
Here’s the basic recipe, but you can play with different combinations of fruits, vinegars and herbs:
Herbal Shrub Recipe
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of fruit (chopped)
2 tbs herbs (chopped)
2 cups of vinegar
6 - 8 oz. sparkling water
Chop fruit and herbs to be used in your shrub and transfer to a glass bowl or large mason jar. Add the sugar and mash up the fruit + herbs + sugar concoction (I like to use a wooden hot chocolate mallet for this but you can also use a fork or a spoon.) Add vinegar to the jar and stir all the ingredients together. Cover with a lid and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Strain the fruit syrup into another glass container using a wire strainer or nutmilk bag. Add 1 part syrup to 2 parts sparkling water (or to your taste.)
Keep any remaining syrup in the refrigerator for future use. Serve with ice and enjoy!