Although I am a gardener as well as a cook,… a strawberry rhubarb shrub is not a bush. Even if it does sound like a fancy new hybrid. Neither is it some obscure heirloom plant nor new GMO Frankenfood.
It is… (drum roll)… the basis for a cocktail that is both trendy and historic. Or a nice non-alcoholic beverage if you prefer.
My strawberry rhubarb shrub discovery is an outgrowth of the summer’s current strawberry deluge. I am on my 4th case from my CSA, which I’ve frozen, jammed, doused in wine, and now drowned in vodka. If you are a seasonal eater, you’ve must get strawberries while the getting is good.
And so I went out on the internet and found this recipe from A Thought for Food. I had heard of shrubs (also called drinking vinegars) before, but always been scared off by the idea of making a cocktail loaded with vinegar. Even mixed with plenty of booze.
Originally developed to preserve fruit, according to Wikipedia, “a shrub can also refer to a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing a vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The term “shrub” can also be applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar.”
Hmmm, more jam or cocktails, cocktails or jam?
Which is how I decided I must really be grown up. ‘Cause shrub beat jam. I remember when my parents drank cocktails while I used to drink wine or beer. I have become my mother. Okay hand back the vodka.
What can you do with strawberry rhubarb shrub? Why not mix half and half with vodka and serve over ice (shown below)? Mix with vodka and add sparkling water? One part shrub syrup to 3 parts club soda (my favorite every day version)? Some 7up for the kids? Bourbon? We experimented a bit Sunday night. Weekend after all.
Monday morning it was just little harder to get out of bed…
Did I say something about being grown up?
- 3/4 cup chopped rhubarb
- 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Combine the cut up strawberries, rhubarb and sugar. Mix together until all the fruit is coated with sugar. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Mash the fruit to break it up, then let it sit for another hour. At this point, a lot of the juices should have been released.
- Mash the fruit again until it is very mushy. Let sit, covered, at room temperature, for 24 hours.
- Add in the vinegar, stir, and let sit, covered, for one week, making sure to give it a good stir every day.
- After a week, strain the fruit from the mixture and save the liquid in a mason jar for up to 3 weeks.
- I started out using the apple cider vinegar recommended by the creator, but ended up preferring white wine vinegar since it didn't dull the bright colors of the fruit.