Strawberry season is here! You know it’s summertime when strawberries are ripe for the picking. And although we’re not growing our own this year, we’re looking forward to starting our own strawberry patch next year. I feel like they’re one of the most versatile foods known to mankind. Alright.. maybe that’s a stretch but you can do so much with them when it comes to preserving. Is it bad that I went to the market to buy strawberries just so I could preserve them for later? Did I also mention that I love canning season? I love canning/preserving so much that I actually refer summertime to “canning season.” You know, like fall time, wintertime, springtime, canning time. My first canning adventure this year wasn’t a jam or jelly but a strawberry shrub. What the hell is a strawberry shrub anyway?
A shrub is a fruit syrup that is preserved with vinegar. “Fruit syrup and vinegar? Gross!”Â Oh no, my friend. It is the opposite of gross. When combined with water or booze it’s a tangy, delightful drink. But it doesn’t stop there, it can be the basis for salad dressings, meat glazes or an additive to jams. It’s amaze-balls. Shrubs have actually been around for thousands of years and are now starting to make a comeback with modern mixologists. I’ve read that old timey sailors used to keep shrubs on hand to prevent scurvy because it’s so rich in Vitamin C. That’s going to be my next reason to have a mid-afternoon drink on the porch. Scurvy prevention.
I made a quick and easy shrub for not so long term storage. I knew a strawberry shrub wouldn’t last long around our house. But I plan on making another batch for long term storage. The ingredients are simple: strawberries, sugar, apple cider vinegar.
Take one part strawberries (de-stemmed, hulled and quartered) to one part sugar. Cover the strawberries in the sugar, stir and let it sit in the fridge for 6 hours up to a few days. The mixture will turn into a nice and thick, juicy syrup. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Press out the solids to get out any extra juice that you can. The remaining solids would be great to make popcicles with or be added to some lemonade… or vodka. Who are we kidding?
After you have everything strained out, stir in one part vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar to give the shrub an additional mild fruity flavor. But you can also use regular distilled white vinegar or a wine vinegar. Whisk thoroughly to combine, funnel it into a jar and throw it in the fridge. Shake it periodically to make sure that the vinegar gets distributed throughout the shrub. Within a week or so, the vinegar dissolve all of the sugar and it’ll be ready to enjoy. When it’s ready, you can pretend to be a hoity toity mixologist for your friends or anyone who will listen. Take a few tablespoons of the shrub and add it to a vodka/sprite, sparkling water, lemonade, tonic.. did I mention vodka? And enjoy!
And that my friends, is a strawberry shrubbery.