Summer of Sauce: Shrubs

June 17, 2013

Summer 2013: The Summer of Sauce!

I have named it so mostly because I want to be eating more farmers market produce (all enhanced by dressings and sauces), and sipping more cocktails on the porch. Summer of Sauce is inclusive of both. 

While in Seattle we visited Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit's new restaurant, Essex. We saddled up to the bar, waiting to be the first ones to get our name on the list for Delancey. While at the bar we ate pickles and drank cocktails-- vinegar ones called shrubs. A shrub is basically a vinegar (any kind) infused with sugar and fruit. The result is pretty pungent, similar to the kick of booze, but non alcoholic (although some fancy bars do use shrubs as ingredients in cocktails).

When we returned from Seattle, Ben (who loves a scientific, well-measured kitchen project) turned to making his own shrubs, with excellent results. There are several different approaches to making shrubs (some marinating for weeks at a time), but here's what Ben made.

There are three different recipes:

Apple Cinnamon
6-8 peeled granny smith apples.
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Lemon Basil
5-7 lemons
a bunch of fresh basil

Peach Ginger
6 peaches
1/3-1/2 cup freshly grated ginger


  • Choose your flavor, dice the fruit, and combine the chosen ingredients. 
  • Add 1 cup of granulated sugar (I bet you could use honey or maple syrup instead if you prefer). Muddle the sugar and fruit together EXTREMELY well (this can take a while) until it's a liquid mess. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
  • Strain the liquid (which will now be a fruit-infused simple syrup) using cheesecloth or a filtration bag (we had this one on hand). Take your time to make sure all of the liquid is removed.
  • Combine the strained out liquid with 2 cups of vinegar. Ben used apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, or a combination.
  • Serve. We drink the shrubs with 2 ounces of the vinegar mix per six ounces of sparkling water, but experiment to see how strong you like them. Garnish with citrus (lemon or grapefruit are nice). 
Finished Products: Lemon Basil, Ginger Peach, Apple Cinnamon
All three combinations are great, but I particularly like the apple cinnamon. Ben wants to try a pear and vanilla bean one next. The pungency of the vinegar combined with the soda water makes for a pretty perfect summer drink, and rumor has it that vinegar is detoxifying (bam!). So, probably if I combined it with some gin, it would all even out. Right?


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