Made from a combination of sugar, fruit, and vinegar, the shrub has an incredibly long history.
Some of the earliest versions of the shrub date back to the 15th century. Like many cocktail ingredients, the shrub started as a medicinal drink. Since then, the shrub has remained popular thanks to its use as a method of preserving seasonal fruit and the fact that they’re just plain delicious.
A shrub is simply a mix of fruit-based syrup, vinegar, and water or alcohol at its base. But once you get past those basics, the variations you can create are nearly endless. Of course, switching up your syrup mix allows the most creativity, but you can also change the types of vinegar you use to create different flavor profiles. As long as your vinegar has a 5% acidity, it will work as a preservative, anything lower and you’ll run the risk of your shrub spoiling. If you’re batching up a shrub for quick use, a lower acid is perfectly acceptable; just note that it will affect how quickly the final product will turn on you.
When choosing ingredients for your shrubs, note that your second rate fruit is perfectly acceptable. Consider it a perfect way to reduce your produce waste! As long as your ingredients are ripe and sweet, you’re good to go. Wash, peel, chop or even lightly crush your fruit to reduce the time needed to develop flavor.
When making a shrub, or any process that involves fermenting, long-term infusing, etc., always be sure you’re working with as clean and sterile equipment as possible. The storage container you will be using for your shrub should be glass, if possible, and fully sterilized before use. Although the vinegar will prevent many types of bacteria from growing, it’s not entirely foolproof.
Making A Spicy Yuzu Shrub
- 1 1/2 Cups Yuzu Fruit, white pith removed and sliced
- 1/2 Cup Yuzu Peel, pith removed
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Ginger
- 1-2 Jalapeños, Chopped (remove seeds for less spice)
- 2 Cups Rice Vinegar
- 1 1/2 to 2 Cups Sugar
Preparation: Add your prepped fruit and herbal ingredients to a sterilized container. In a sauce pan, heat your vinegar to just below boiling (190º) and pour the hot vinegar over the fruit, leaving at least 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the container rim clean, seal tightly, and store in a cool, dark place for 24 hours to 4 weeks. Note that some ingredients will take more or less time to infuse. This yuzu mix, for instance, will get much stronger much faster than a simple berry mix.
Once your vinegar has infused to your liking, strain into a new container using either a coffee filter or damp cheesecloth. You may desire to strain your shrub more than once to get as much residue as possible out. The goal is a non-cloudy mix.
Once filtered, place your vinegar and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Taste to see if your mix needs more sugar. Transfer to a sterilized container and tightly seal. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months – but always check for signs of mold, fermentation, or sliminess before using.