Recipe: strawberry shrub
I just peeked outside on our deck to see a few inches of fluffy, beautiful snow accumulating at a nice clip. An upslope storm is hitting the Front Range right now. That’s why we came home early from Crested Butte – to catch the powder (and just to be home again – I love home). Kaweah, who usually sleeps most of the day, was wide awake watching us vacuum and scrub our place down in Crested Butte this morning. She knows the drill. She knows when we do this, a 5-hour car ride will follow. Kaweah didn’t sleep a wink during the drive home either. I think it makes the poor girl nervous. Once home though, she was pretty waggy and wanted to check everything out. Once we unloaded the car, I finally got her to settle down in her bed.
all comfy and cute
A few minutes later she was curled up and asleep, able to relax at last. There was merely a fresh dusting of snow in our yard when we arrived in Nederland in contrast to the several feet of snow piled up in our yard back in Crested Butte. One thing I noticed this winter is that we nominally enjoy one season in Crested Butte at a time. In Nederland, we straddle two seasons because Boulder sits 3000 feet lower in elevation and usually enjoys springlike conditions while we’re getting second helpings of winter in the mountains. I realize now that I actually like this. It mixes things up a little bit – keeps it exciting.
California strawberries have been showing up in Boulder markets lately. I’m not talking about the white, styrofoam, flavorless strawberries of the off season, but the juicy, red, sweet morsels that warrant festivals in celebration of this beloved fruit. So let’s make a shrub!
you’ll need: strawberries, sugar, and red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
What’s a shrub? Good question. I was not familiar with shrubs until two summers ago when Wendy gave me a jar of homemade rhubarb shrub after a successful morning of foraging. The first time I tasted it, I was startled. It’s sour and sweet… but sour! Shrubs are acidulated beverages, in this case it is a sugary fruit syrup made with vinegar. Back in the day, it was a way to preserve fruit well past its season. A shrub is also known as a drinking vinegar. They’re great to sip or to mix into cocktails or soda water and they are SO easy to make!
hull and quarter the strawberries
stir it together
cover with plastic and chill
You’re not limited to strawberries. Any berry would work, as would other fruits. But right now, I’m obsessing just a little about strawberries. Mix the berries and sugar together and let the fruit macerate in the refrigerator over a period of a few hours to a few days. The instructions state that additional maceration time is fine and won’t diminish the flavor, so I let mine chill for a week as the liquid was drawn from the fruit.
a pool of liquid should form
strain the liquid through a sieve
add any excess sugar to the juice
The recipe called for red wine or apple cider vinegar and I opted for the red wine vinegar because it’s red and so are strawberries. I don’t know how much difference it makes in flavor to use apple cider vinegar, but it might be worth it to make another batch for “research” purposes.
pouring the vinegar into the sugar syrup
store the shrub in a jar
a deep red
I let my shrub chill in the refrigerator for a week. The sharpness of the vinegar mellows out with time and the acid and sugar come to a nice balance the longer you wait. It really did taste better a few weeks later than it did a few days out. Jeremy was not a fan of the shrub straight up. He warmed up to it in soda water, but he really liked it in a cocktail. Me? I’m rather fond of sipping it straight up. I also find it delightful in beverages and cocktails because it adds a dimension with its tartness that sugar alone cannot accomplish. We’re definitely stocking a few shrubs for entertaining this summer!
pour an ounce or two into a glass of ice
top with seltzer water – refreshing!
from Serious Eats
1 cup strawberries (or any berries), quartered
1 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
Place the strawberry quarters in a medium bowl with the sugar. Stir the strawberries and sugar together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until juice begins to pull out of the fruit and pool in the bowl. This takes anywhere from 5-6 hours to a couple of days, but leaving the fruit in the refrigerator to macerate for longer is fine. I left mine in for 5 days. Strain the liquid from the fruit through a fine mesh sieve. Give it a gentle press from a spoon or spatula to get as much of the liquid out as possible. Any excess sugar left in the bowl should be scraped into the syrup. Whisk the vinegar into the syrup. Pour the shrub into a clean jar or bottle. Seal it and give it a good shake. Check on the shrub every few days. If there is undissolved sugar in the bottle, give it another shake to help it dissolve. By a week’s time, the sugar should be completely dissolved. Makes about 2-3 cups. Store up to a year in the refrigerator.
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