Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Infused Spirits and Shrubs Part 2: Shrubs Final

Shrubs: blackberry, mango and raspberry
In an earlier post on Infused Spirits and Shrubs (Part 1) I wrote about the history of shrubs. I never did get around to the strawberry or lemon, but decided to add mango, instead. This morning, I was crouched down in front of my lower pantry cupboard swirling seven one-quart mason jars filled with various fruits and vodka (still infusing) and decided it was high-time to strain and bottle my shrubs. I made three shrubs: blackberry, mango and raspberry. Each was a combination of fruit, sugar and apple cider vinegar in (near) equal amounts. The resulting syrup should be both sweet and tart, but neither of those characteristics should overpower the fruit. The thing that I really like about drinks made with a fruit shrub is that the vinegar gives drinks you make a quality of effervescence without bubbles - if that makes any sense. I am not a fan of sweet drinks so the tart quality of this syrup makes  me very happy. Of the three that I made, the blackberry has the least fruity character, but it is still very good. The mango and raspberry are absolute flavor home runs.

I didn't strain any of the three to be crystal clear (especially the mango, which is quite fibrous anyway), but I put each mixture through a fine mesh strainer and then through a double-layer of cheese cloth before bottling.
Straining the raspberry shrub: the remaining solids, while a wee bit seed-y, tasted good mixed into yogurt.
blackberry shrub, basil and lime cooler

Recipes: Fruit Shrub Syrup & Blackberry Shrub, Lime and Basil Cooler

Fruit Shrub Syrup
adapted from: Serious Eats: Cold-Processed Shrub
Yield: Will vary somewhat depending on the type of fruit.
The Serious Eats recipe says that it will make between 20 and 24 ounces, but each of the three I made (mango, blackberry and raspberry) yielded approximately 10 fluid ounces, or 300 ml each.
I made one with red wine vinegar and was not happy with how forward the vinegar taste was - at least using this cold process method. I've been happiest with apple cider vinegar.

  • 1 cup very ripe fruit, washed and dried
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 glass container or jar with a tight lid to hold the mixture while it infuses
  • fine mesh strainer and cheese cloth
  • 1 bottle in which to decant the finished shrub - washed in the dishwasher or sterilised in boiling water. This may be slight overkill because of the vinegar, but it can't hurt.
  • 1 muddler or wooden spoon

  • Combine the fruit and sugar in the glass container and crush the fruit with the muddler or wooden spoon until the fruit is almost liquified and thoroughly combined with the sugar. Seal the jar or container and place this in the fridge until the sugar has dissolved. This may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
  • Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to the fruit mixture and mix well. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a least a week. Pick up the jar and swirl the contents every day or so.
  • Strain this mixture through a find mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract the maximum amount of syrup and then strain once more through a couple of layers of cheesecloth.  Pour the twice-strained mixture into the bottle for the finished product, through a funnel. Refrigerate.
Blackberry Shrub, Lime and Basil Cooler
Serves: 2

  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups cracked ice
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 2 oz blackberry shrub
  • 1 oz cointreau
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Optional: 1 oz simple syrup
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Muddler or wooden spoon
  • Lime wedge quarters for garnish
  1. Add 1/2 cup of cracked ice and basil leaves to the cocktail shaker
  2. Gently muddle the ice and the basil for 10 seconds
  3. Add the vodka, blackberry shrub, lime juice. Add the syrup if you prefer a sweeter drink.
  4. Close the cocktail shaker and shake until the outside of the shaker feels icy-cold and sweats
  5. Strain the cocktail over ice into two tall or double highball glasses, or straight-up into martini glasses.

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