Shrub is all the rage these days. Maybe you’ve heard of it, pinned it to your favorite board *cough, like you’ll pin this one, right? cough*, you’ve maybe even enjoyed it in a bougie cocktail at your favorite high-end watering hole. But like most things trending these days (like scrunchies & platform boots), shrub has been around for awhile. And though it be traditional, it be tasty.
So, what’s Shrub? It’s a drinking vinegar, a delicious drinking vinegar. Origins come from many places but the recipe I’m enjoying originates from 17th century England and was passed to early colonial America. Finding fresh fruit during off season months back in the day was, well, a challenge. I mean, honestly, it didn’t exist. We all know this. So, if you were a young colonial chap, you had to make preserves of your fruits and berries in order to enjoy their flavors and nutritional perks through the winter. One of those preservation techniques was making a shrub. Vinegar was poured over fruits and berries and left to sit as little as overnight or up to several days. This liquid would then be strained of its fruity contents and mixed with sugar or honey then reduced into a syrup. Afterwards, you would enjoy this syrup mixed into soda, water, or cocktails. So, see? Not much has changed since the good ole days…besides the advent of the refrigerator. That was a big bonus. Now, we get to enjoy shrubs for the sake of it.
And the way I make my shrub is pretty similar to the way ye ole’ English would make it, and I enjoy it the same ways, too! But I cheat the system just a tad with a bit more modern and quick adaptation. Traditionally, you can let the fruit and sugar blend together in a cool place (like your fridge) for a few days, then add the vinegar and reduce. I usually forget that I need shrub until the week before an event so, I do the quicker version that begins with heating the fruit in a simple syrup THEN adding the vinegar. It speeds up the process by a few days and having done both methods before, I can hardly tell the difference. Then, I let the fruit rest in the vinegar and sugar for a few days and eventually strain out. A little twist on the original. The recipe we see here today will be the quicker heat-loving version. Now, on to the fruit we’ll be adding.
Pomegranates are one of my favorite parts of creeping into Fall and Winter (besides skiing, I’ll be honest). Their sweet yet punchy, bright and poppy, delivishly-difficult-to-seed-selves are always on my counter until they fall out of season again. So, to honor them and their sprite flavors, I decided pomegranates would be the subject of this shrub.
Before we drop to the recipe, here’s a couple facts, tips, and tricks about Shrubs
- It’s an apertif! Drinking shrub before a meal helps stimulate your appetite, allowing your stomach to prep for a killer dinner (Thanksgiving, anyone?) Try serving it during cocktail hour
- Like other drinking vinegars, there’s a lot of health benefits derived from shrub. The list includes enhancing weight loss, stabilizing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and detoxifying the liver…to name a few.
- Try other combos of fruits and herbs! This can be a fun experiment. On top of making Pomegranate shrub, I also make strawberry rhubarb, raspberry mint, blackberry, and even stone fruit. Explore the sweet and the savory combo. You may find a stone cold winner.
- The longer it sits, the better. Like all infusions, leaving the fruit in for longer will give you a more powerful punch. If you have the time, let it sit. Let it stew. Let it develop.
- There are a few different vinegars you can use to make shrub, red wine vinegar is another popular option but, I prefer an apple cider vinegar with the mother, like Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. Having the mother adds extra health benefits (friendly bacteria and enzymes) and I personally enjoy the flavor the most.
This recipe was created with the help of this blog post from Food 52, you can find it HERE
- 1 Pomegranate, seeded
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (I prefer Braggs)
- Seed Pomegranate. Place seeds in medium sized mixing bowl and slightly press to break the skins. (the bottom of a measuring cup works great)
- In medium sauce pan, combine water and sugar and make simple syrup, bringing mixture to a boil. Stir, making sure all sugar dissolves.
- Add pressed pomegranates to simple syrup, reduce temperature and bring to low simmer. Let simmer until the syrup resembles the color of the fruit and the fruit is wilted and tired.
- Add vinegar and return mixture to a simmer. Then remove from heat.
- Strain fruit from mixture, or leave in for added steeping, and pour into sterilized jar. Store in refrigerator.
- If leaving remaining fruit in, strain out in a few days. Then return to refrigerator.
- Shrub can be stored in a tightly sealed jar for up to six months.