Amanda Hesser writes in the New York Times, "Call me irresponsible. The first time I tasted raspberry vinegar — once known as a raspberry shrub — from a 1900 Times recipe, it was as if I were sampling the consummate raspberry. It was sweet and full-bodied, and the acidity wasn’t the ephemeral “ping!” of most berries but more of a fiery bellow. The taste was intense and addictive, and I wanted to drink the syrup as an elixir. And so I did. For weeks that summer, I doled it out by the spoonful into glasses of chilled sparkling water and prosecco — and a swell summer it was."
Instead of just a flavored syrup, shrubs are made with acid, usually vinegar, giving them a distinct tart edge. Making a shrub is very simple. Do so by combining equal parts of fruit, acid, and sweetener and let it sit until it becomes an intensely-flavored syrup that’s a true concentrate of the season’s flavors. Shrubs can be made with almost any fruit during any time of year. Right now, with serviceberries ripe and weighing down their branches, this is a good opportunity to harvest and turn them into a flavorful sparking drink.
Seasonal Shrub Recipe
Following are universal instructions that you can use to create any shrub flavors desired. To serve a shrub in the classic manner, mix one part shrub syrup with four parts club soda. You can also use the syrup as topping for ice cream and pancakes.
1 Lb diced ripe fruit, pitted and stemmed as needed
1 C. sugar
1 C. vinegar
A pinch of herbs or spices
- Discard any bruised or rotten fruit, rinse and dry the rest, and place it in a large glass bowl.
- Press the fruit with the back of a spoon until every piece is bruised.
- Add the sugar, stir to coat, cover tightly, and set aside in a dark, cool spot until the mixture is syrupy and the fruit broken down, approximately 1 to 2 days.
- Add the vinegar and herbs/spices, whisk to combine. Cover tightly, and set aside to rest for 7-10 days.
- Strain the shrub through a fine mesh sieve and discard fruit and seasonings. Pass shrub through clean cheesecloth to remove any sediment. Pour shrub into a clean bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid, cover, and store refrigerated for up to 4 months.