The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America.By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup.The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails.Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration.
The serving of vinegar-based shrub drinks became popular again in 2011 and 2012 in American restaurants and bars. The trend has also been noted in bars in Canada as well as London. The acidity of the shrub makes it well suited as anapéritif or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails. Unlike cocktails acidulated with citrus, vinegar-based drinks will remain clear when shaken.
The reference materials listed at the end were interesting reads for sure, but back to the article in my new magazine edible Alaska that started this blog post. Shrub A new Twist on an Old Tradition by Evie Witten. Helen Howarth of Fromagio’s Artisan cheese in Anchorage is bringing this refreshing drink to the local consumers but she shares a recipe how easy its a DIY 3 ingredient start to deliciousness. 1pound of fruits or vegetables,3/4 cup sugar, 314 cup vinegar; chop the fruit or vegetables, place in a bowl with sugar and macerate. cover bowl, refrigerate for a few days, then pour off the juice and add any type of vinegar. shore in corked or closed jar.
Plus as its mentioned making shrubs allows you to use the whole harvest of not just fruits but also crab apples, rhubarb. carrots, herbs, ginger, and many endless more choices.
Cannot wait to experiment with all the new combinations from local freshly harvested produce with a new preserving method. R from Mat-Su Valley
edible Alaska Magazine summer 2016 No. 1, Shrub A new Twist on an Old Tradition by Evie Witten, pg 38