Shrubs

Last night’s farmgirl fabulous fun seems like as good a place as any to start a new blog. After two days of not accomplishing much (the day before I baby sat hatching chicken eggs all day and yesterday, well, I’ll make no excuses) I decided at around 8:00 pm that I needed to get something done and I headed out to the edges of our acreage with a bucket and a healthy fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I returned about an hour later with at least 2 lbs. of black raspberries and a few new bug bites. The first thing I did was divvy out about a cup of berries for The Boy who wanted no part of evening berry picking but, of course, had his mouth open like a baby bird when I walked in the door (he’s lucky I like him so much).

My second task was to measure out 2 more cups of those little jewels for one of my new favoritist berry concoctions, the shrub (the rest landed in the freezer for jam making with my Partner in Crime when our schedules allow – more about that later). I first learned about shrubs through Marisa at Food in Jars (who also recently wrote a wonderfully instructive post on black raspberry shrubs). Apparently “shrub” is some sort of bastardization of the Arabic word “sharab” which means, “to drink” which I learned from Tait Farm Foods which is one of the places credited with preserving the tradition of the shrub (which, which, which!). Shrubs are a colonial tradition created to preserve fruits using vinegar and/or alcohol for winter consumption before the days of refrigeration (think vitamin C to stave off “spring sickness,” aka “scurvy,” in December with no grocery store or food co-op to provide you with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies). Regardless of our new fangled refrigeration and lack of need for preserving fruit, shrubs are delicious and easy to make and taste good in everything from sparkling water to champagne to iced tea to your morning orange juice mimosa.

I use the cold process instructions at Serious Eats to make my first strawberry shrub (written by Michael Dietsch who, I’m finding, is the go to guy for all things boozy and sophisticated). I started the shrub on the right left with 2 cups of black raspberries and 2 cups of demerera sugar. I’ll leave it in the fridge for several days and then strain out the solids and mix in 2 cups of coconut vinegar (I have no idea if the health claims are true, but it has a wonderful flavor). The shrub on the right is the second strawberry shrub I’ve made because we already blew through the first one I made (in sparkling water, iced tea, and especially mimosas).

black raspberry shrub in process and finished strawberry shrub

black raspberry shrub in process and finished strawberry shrub

If you decided to make a shrub of your own and need some suggestions for how to use it up, Tait Farm has some nice recipe sheets on their website (scroll to the bottom of the page). My suggestion? Put it in anything and everything you already like to drink… almost.

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4 responses

  1. They are so easy and delicious. After I wrote this post I found that the Slow Food Ark of Taste lists shrubs which is kind of fun.

  2. OK-so now I too am inspired. That’s saying something ‘cuz I’m not one for cooking and such, but this seemed like something even I couldn’t screw up! Added vinegar to my premiere batch yesterday, and today I went back to my black raspberry source (aka my mom’s backyard) & procured some for batch #2. I’ve got 2 1/2 pounds of berries-that’s gonna make a lot of shrub! I guess this makes me……a shrubber! : p

    ~jana~
    p.s. love your little blog!

    • They are so, so easy! I think I may have 5 flavors in the fridge now. And I happen to be sipping some sparkling water and black raspberry shrub after having helped Scott move the pigs’ pasture.

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