There’s no point in denying it any longer. The evidence is all there on the top and middle shelves of my refrigerator: I’m a hipster. If you should have the misfortune to open my fridge, you’ll see them there as clear as day. Various containers in glass or plastic with a makeshift label.
Not only am I pickling courgettes (what else can I do when I have this glut from the garden?) but I’ve started making shrubs.
Like with most things that I know nothing about but my foolhardiness tells me that I could be doing, I read a lot of articles online before extracting the best of each technique to make my own version.
Essentially, mixing fruit, sugar and vinegar gives you a tasty and versatile liquid which can be used for a myriad of purposes, either on a plate or in a glass. If you’re new to the idea of a shrub or are looking for fresh inspiration, my main points of reference are:
“How To Make A Fruit Shrub Syrup” from TheKitchn
“How To Make Shrub Syrups” from Serious Eats
“The Shrubarb Cocktail” from Epicurious (I never thought I would say or type the word shrubarb…..)
Because I’m rarely rushed and I didn’t want to be drinking strawberry jam, I favoured the Serious Eats method which has the added bonus of not getting any saucepans dirty.
It’s super simple too. You just take a handful of strawberries, hull and slice them until they’re about even and you think you’ll get a good surface area to sugar ratio. I put them in a plastic ice cream tub that has been reclaimed and repurposed for shrubbing (another word I never thought I’d use) along with a generous cup of sugar.
I leave the strawberries in the fridge at least overnight, but often for closer to 24 hours, until the sugar has turned into strawberry juice. I strain that juice off into a measuring jug and whatever amount of juice I’ve got, I add the same again of my homemade red wine vinegar.
(Yes, I make my own vinegar too. I’ll just leave now.)
Conventional wisdom says to use apple cider vinegar but I have got perfectly palatable results using red or white wine vinegar.
It should go without saying that the beauty of the shrub lies in its infinite twists and variations. I personally love adding fresh mint leaves to the strawberry and sugar tub, but I’ve also used basil leaves and, on another occasion, vanilla sugar to give a third dimension to the flavour.