Shrubs are an old-fashioned way to make a fruit syrup including vinegar. Add a splash of this Pomegranate Shrub to your club soda or vodka for a fun drink.
After cleaning up from a dinner party, my husband and I say that we wish we could be invited to our own house for dinner. Not to brag, but we throw a nice event together. And the food ain’t half bad. The same goes with gift giving. At least for me. I love making and giving friends and loved ones homemade gifts. And of course, they tend to foodie gifts. My favorite!
In the past, my peeps received gifts like bottles of Pomegranate Tequila, jars of homemade jams and boxes of Pomegranate Fudge, to name a few. This year I’m leaning towards shrubs. No, not those green things growing in your yard.
Shrubs are an old-school technique of preserving fruit with sugar and vinegar. And they are making a big comeback today. I learned about shrubs during the Fancy Food Show last year and my curiosity was peaked.
Shrubs go back to the Middle East, from the Arab word sharaab, meaning beverage. In farsi, we have many Arabic words and sharaab is included. Persians have another word for a fruit-juice drink: sharbat. I realized that Sekanjabin, a Persian mint syrup, is actually a shrub. Cool!
Whatever you call it, using various techniques, fruit is basically combined with sugar and vinegar (a high quality vinegar, mind you) to produce a sweet and tangy syrup. The solids are strained and you are left with a delicious syrup that changes its flavor profile over time.
If you use heat, you add the sugar and fruit to infuse the vinegar. Then you strain out the solids. Another technique does not use heat. Sugar and fruit are combined and left to sit for a few days and macerate to extract the juice over time. Whatever method you choose to use alters the flavor of the shrub.
The basic ratio to start when you are shrub making is 1-pound of fruit, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vinegar. But every fruit varies in the amount of juice it holds. And again, personal preference can alter your recipe.
You do not drink shrubs straight out of the bottle. If you do, you will taste a very sweet and vinegary syrup. The shrub is meant to be combined with water, club soda or seltzer water for a refreshing drink. The original fruit beverage.
Shrubs can also be combine with liquor, like vodka, gin, rum and tequila to make a fabulous cocktail. You can even add some to your champagne and sparkling wine to ring in the new year.
I decided to make a Pomegranate Shrub. Of course, I am obsessed with pomegranates. I also cheated and used store-bought pomegranate juice. I have juiced many a pomegranate and I certainly wasn’t in the mood to shuck several pomegranates. Not to mention that my husband got involved and had his own preference of the fruit-vinegar-sugar ratio.
I like my shrub more tart, hubs preferred it more sweet. We had a store-bought shrub in house, a gift from a friend, so we opened it up and tasted it to resolve our disagreement. I couldn’t taste the fruit and only the sugar. Blah. Homemade is definitely better.
My best advice to you when you follow my recipe for Pomegranate Shrub, is to use it as a starting point. If you prefer more sugar, add it. Too sweet? Add more vinegar. Prefer more fruit? Add more.
And speaking of vinegars, when shrub-making choose a high quality vinegar, not that cheap white distilled stuff you use for pickling or cleaning your house. Try champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. You can also use some balsamics, both red and white.
If you do use balsamic vinegar, use less and it will alter your sugar amount as balsamics are more sweet. For this recipe, I used Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. I have honestly never tasted another cider vinegar better than Bragg’s.
If you want to learn more about shrubs, check out this fabulous cookbook, Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I know it’s on my wish list!
Serving Suggestions: Sweet and sour shrubs can be mixed in water, club soda or seltzer water for a non-alcoholic carbonated treat. They are also great mixed in with vodka, gin, rum or tequila for a unique cocktail. Above pictured is mixed with champagne! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size: 1 TBS
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 59 Sodium: 4mg Carbohydrates: 14.5g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 12.8g Protein: 0g
Serving Suggestions: Sweet and sour shrubs can be mixed in water, club soda or seltzer water for a non-alcoholic carbonated treat. They are also great mixed in with vodka, gin, rum or tequila for a unique cocktail. Above pictured is mixed with champagne!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.