image It all begins on the farm

The Shrub

They say that everything old becomes new again, and recently we have discovered the joys of making and drinking Shrubs. We’ve enjoyed it so much that you could say that the drink has been rescued, at least temporarily, from oblivion here at The Fireside. We’ve discovered that making and drinking a Shrub is another way to connect with our past and add new and interesting flavors to our lives.

At The Fireside, we dedicated nine days to making the syrup for a Shrub, by taking the infused approach. Although, this is a long process, at the end we are rewarded with a syrup that has a brighter, fresher flavor than that of quickly cooked versions. You can make a shrub in less than an hour, by making a syrup with the sugar and vinegar. Mix the two together, bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and add the fruit, cooking for another 5 minutes or so.

As for the fruit, you can use pretty much anything. We use a mix of locally sourced berries as well as berries we locally forage ourselves. Whatever in-season local fruits we can get our hands on we will give a try. For sweetener, granulated sugar is most commonly used. We like to experiment with brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or a mixture of those – all organic, of course.

We’ve acquired a love of shrubs. The drinks vary in taste depending on what you use, and in the end, you have a wonderfully sweet, yet tart drink that is both refreshing and bright.

Here’s the outline of the recipe we use:

The Fireside’s Fruit Shrub – makes approximately 1 quart of syrup

3 – 4 cups Fresh fruit, berries left whole, other fruits cut into 1″ chunks
2 cups Sugar or your favorite sweetener
2 cups Vinegar, good quality, best bets are cider or wine vinegar

In a clean and sterilized half gallon canning jar – mix the fruit and the sugar, mashing the fruit lightly so that it releases its juices. Cover and allow to sit for 48 hours in a dark, room temperature place. Shake mixture once or twice to help dissolve the sugar.

After two days, add the vinegar and allow to sit for another seven days, in a dark, room temperature place.

After seven days, strain the liquid off of the fruit, pressing lightly on the fruit to help extract the juices. Strain again through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to get a clear liquid or thru a strainer for a more robust and full-bodied shrub.

At this point, the Shrub is ready to drink.  However, it’s best to refrigerate the shrub for a week or two. This will allow the vinegar to mellow a bit more and for the flavors to mature.

To serve – mix approximately 2 ounces of syrup with 6-8 ounces of water, either still or carbonated (you can also use club soda.) Add your favorite Gin, Vodka or Rum and serve over ice.

If this all seems like too much work – just come on down to The Fireside and enjoy!

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