How To

Shrubs

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Shrubs have a long history.  Babylonians added vinegar to their water to help “purify” it, Romans drank vinegar based drinks to quench their thirst in the heat and Italian immigrants brought vinegar based drinks to America with them on ships that used the vinegar not only to purify the water, but also disinfect the ship to prevent disease outbreaks.

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Technically a shrub is any fruit that is macerated with vinegar and any other flavoring agents (herbs, spices, etc).  The mixture is then kept in the fridge for up to a month so that the flavors can marry and mellow over time. For Make & Muddle, we strain the solids out and add sugar to the vinegar to create a delicious syrup and, of course, an ingredient for cocktails.  There are also quick shrub recipes that can be made immediately if you lack the patience (or refrigerator space) for a 3 week steep.

Forgiving by nature, shrub recipes are an ideal place to experiment with different flavor profiles.  If you can dream it, chances are it can be made into a shrub. And with the ingredients generally being cost effective, it is a home run recipe and sure fire way to wow guests.  

A few things to remember when making shrubs at home.  Vinegar choice drastically affects flavor profile. We have used every vinegar we could find in shrubs and find that we prefer white and aged balsamic vinegars the best.  They complement and round out flavors as opposed to being harsh or too bright.

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One of our favorite things about shrubs is that they translate well in any kind of cocktail whether it is spirit forward, a lower ABV topped with prosecco or hard seltzer, or simply with a seltzer or tonic water for a non alcoholic “mocktail”.  This alone makes the shrub a “Must Have” for your holiday season.

In addition to the longer steep shrubs below, we also have a quick shrub recipe to start you collection.  Let us know what your favorites are!

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Cranberry Orange Ginger Quick Shrub

24 oz fresh cranberries
3 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
Peel from one orange
1.5” piece of ginger, peeled and cut into ¼” pieces
1 cup white balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients except vinegar in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries are soft and have split. Strain solids from the liquid. Discard solids and strain liquid once more through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Add 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar to strained liquid.  Store in the fridge for up to a month.

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Blueberry Lavender Lemon Shrub

2 cups blueberries
2 TBSP culinary lavender
Peel from 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 cup aged balsamic vinegar
2 cups organic cane sugar

Muddle all ingredients except sugar in a glass jar with a lid.  Place shrub in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Shake ingredients daily.  When desired flavor is reached, strain solids. Bring liquid and 2 cups of sugar to a boil.  Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool to room temp before storing in a glass bottle.  May be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

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Blood Orange Cardamom Rosemary

5 blood oranges, quartered (this can also be done with navel oranges)
3 TBSP Cardamom seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups white balsamic
2 cups sugar

Muddle all ingredients except sugar in a glass jar with a lid.  Place shrub in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Shake ingredients daily.  When desired flavor is reached, strain solids. Bring liquid and 2 cups of sugar to a boil.  Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool to room temp before storing in a glass bottle.  May be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

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