Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Blackberry Ginger Shrub

I hope everyone's week is off to a good start! It's time for Tasty Tuesday with Lean Lena but I don't have any new food to share since I've been so busy.  I've been sticking with simple dinners and tried and true recipes just so I'm more likely to actually eat at home instead of getting take out.  But I do have a fun drink recipe to share :)

You might be asking, what is a shrub, other than a plant in your yard?  Well, I hadn't heard of it before this year either.  Over dinner one evening a friend had mentioned that she was making her own shrubs and told me all about them.  Then I kept seeing articles and recipes for them everywhere!  There was even one in the Washington Post earlier this summer.

Serious Eats has a great description of shrubs.  "In beverage history, the word shrub has carried several meanings. For our purposes, it's enough to say that a shrub is an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients. Where things get complicated is that the acid varies by recipe; it can be either fruit juice or vinegar. Additionally, some shrub recipes are prepared using alcohol that steeps with the fruit, acid, and sugar. Finally, hardcore shrubbers make their own vinegar, using fruit juice, sugar, and wild yeasts from the air.  In any case, the sugar, acid, and optional alcohol preserve the fruit juice, and in fact that was one original purpose of the shrub. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, mixed with cool water to provide a pick-me-up on hot summer days. A proper shrub has a flavor that's both tart and sweet, so it stimulates the appetite while quenching thirst."

A little bit of syrup goes a long way with some fizzy water!

I know it sounds a bit strange to be drinking vinegar but this seriously has a wonderful, complex flavor that I've been loving.  There are a lot of methods out there to make shrubs so I just picked the one that sounded the easiest and that's a ration of 1:1:1 for fruit, sugar, and vinegar with no cooking required.  The only downside of this method is that it takes a while for it to be ready to drink.  The first shrub I made was just blueberries, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  It was delicious and I was hooked! 

For this one, the ingredients are 1 cup of blackberries, 1 cup of sugar, about an inch of ginger, and 1 cup of balsamic vinegar. I combined the blackberries and sugar in a mixing bowl and allowed it to macerate for an hour so the liquid from the fruit began to release.  Then I added in the vinegar and grated the ginger into the mix.  I would use more ginger next time though as I can't taste much of it in the final product. I stirred it all together and moved it all to a jar with an air tight lid.  I put it in the refrigerator for a week, giving it a mix every day. At the end of the week, I strained the solids out and put the liquid into a water bottle (for easy pouring).

And that's it!  I've been mixing it with carbonated water for a little homemade soda.  I also think it would be delicious in a cocktail, though I've yet to try that.  I know it sounds like a lot of sugar but it's seriously so concentrated and strong that you only need a little bit in your drink for a lot of flavor.  One batch lasted me for about 15-20 drinks.