One of my favorite things to make with in-season fruit is shrub. A shrub, also known as a drinking vinegar, is a lightly fermented maceration of fruit and sugar that is combined with vinegar to create a beautifully acidic juice-like concentrate. This is a perfect springtime cocktail mixer or just a refreshing addition to sparkling water. Now that rhubarb is finally here in Southwest Wisconsin after a long winter, I want to put it in everything, and this shrub is a great place to start. Because rhubarb itself is bitter, it is balanced nicely with the sweetness of the sugar and brightness of the vinegar.
The process takes just over a week but, like most fermented things, almost all of it is waiting time. You can make a shrub with almost any fruit, such as berries or citrus, and it is a great way to use up lots of extra fruit when the harvest provides more than you can eat fresh. I used fresh rhubarb for mine, but if you have frozen rhubarb you have put up that will also work great. The rhubarb turns the shrub a beautiful pink color that makes any drink look amazing!
The basic ratio I use for making rhubarb shrub is 1:1 rhubarb to sugar, and then 1: 1 juice (from the macerated fruit/sugar mixture) to vinegar, so this can be made in bigger or smaller batches as needed. Following the shrub recipe is a cocktail recipe I have been using to give you an idea of ratios using a shrub in a cocktail.
Makes 1 quart
4 cups rhubarb, diced into 1" pieces
4 cups organic evaporated cane juice
2 cups white wine vinegar (approximate amount, depending how much juice is produced)
In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb and sugar. Stir well to begin dissolving the sugar. Cover with a cloth and let sit at room temperature.
Each day, stir the juice and and sugar together to ensure all of the sugar gets dissolved and more juice is released from the rhubarb. This mixture is ready when it becomes bubbly and has produced a good amount of juice. It will have a slightly fermented smell to it, but be sure to catch it before it becomes too boozy smelling. At that point, yeast fermentation has taken over and it has become alcoholic, so discard and start over.
When it is warmer, it will likely take only three days, and may take a few days longer if it is cooler where you are.
Strain the macerated fruit through a mesh strainer. Press the rhubarb to squeeze all of the juice out. You will get approximately 2 cups of juice, but measure your end yield to get the exact amount.
In a glass jar, combine the fermented fruit juice with the vinegar. Shake or stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep for 2-3 months in the refrigerator.
Serve chilled in a cocktail or add to sparkling water for a soda-like treat.
Here is the delicious and refreshing cocktail I have been making with my rhubarb shrub, but experiment to see what flavor combinations you like best!
1 oz. Rhubarb Shrub
1 oz. tequila, such as El Milagro
4 oz. organic ginger ale or your favorite flavored sparkling water(I use WiscoPop's ginger brew!)
Fresh lime wedge
Combine shrub, tequila and ginger ale in a cocktail glass. Add ice cubes to preference and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.
Brine & Broth
I am a nutritionist in Southwest Wisconsin, focused on traditional, nutrient-dense foods. My goal is to provide you with simple and delicious recipes that fit into real life, and information for choosing healthful real foods. Enjoy!