Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Honey Rhubarb Shrub


Photo by Renato Ghio
Shrub - it's not just something you find in your yard.

In the beverage world, shrubs are concentrated syrups made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar. They were popular in Colonial America where they were mixed with cool water to provide a refreshing pick-me-up on a hot summer day. In the 19th century shrubs were used to flavor tonics, sodas and cocktails but they disappeared with the rise of industrially produced soda. Over the last few years it appears the shrub has been making a comeback. This is good news, because as I discovered, it's fun to make and it's delicious.

Methods
There are two ways to make shrub syrup.

Stovetop: Simmer the fruit, vinegar and sugar on the stove top, then strain.

Cold Method: Let the fruit macerate in the sugar for a few days, then stir in the vinegar and strain the liquid.

Stovetop is obviously faster, but many argue it doesn't preserve the fresh taste of the fruit. The recipe which inspired this post was for the stove top method. Hence, that is the method I used. However, I see the merit it having a little patience and making it via the cold process. Next time.

Ingredients
All it takes is three ingredients.

Fruit: You can use pretty much any in-season fruit. You want the fruit to be as ripe and sweet as possible. Rhubarb isn't sweet, but its in season and at peak flavor.

Vinegar: The go-to choice is apple cider vinegar. Other options are red wine, white wine, champagne, or white balsamic. Avoid plain white vinegar, it's too strong and overpowering.

Sugar: The go-to option is white granulated sugar. It adds sweetness but not flavor. Other options like raw sugar, brown sugar, honey, and even maple syrup each offer a unique flavor profile.

I thought in this instance some local honey would be a nice flavor compliment to the rhubarb. It did indeed add a nice complexity.

This recipe is my first try at making a shrub and I think I'm hooked. I love the tart, yet sweet taste. I definitely plan to play around with various fruit, vinegar and sugar combinations this summer.

Photo by Renato Ghio

Honey Rhubarb Shrub


Ingredients
  • 2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
Directions
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat bring the apple cider and rhubarb to a simmer.
  2. Continue simmering until the rhubarb completely falls apart.
  3. Stir in the honey and continue cooking until dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids.
  6. Add some ice to a tall glass and spoon in 3-4 tablespoons of the rhubarb liquid.
  7. Fill the glass with sparkling water. Stir and enjoy!
Serving Idea
  • For a "grown up" version of this drink, add 1 oz of rum to the above combination.

Yum

Have you ever made a shrub? Any cocktail suggestions?
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