Recipe: Shrubs

Though I spend much of my culinary energy making pies, I try to make sure I still give myself the time and space to make food and drinks in personal time.  After all, a lot of cooking, eating and drinking is what got me into this business in the first place.  I thought I'd share a recipe for shrubs, or drinking vinegar (I know, it sounds strange, but give it a shot).

One of the reasons that I love cocktails is that they’re fancy and delicious without being overly sweet (depending on which cocktails you choose to make, of course).  The alcohol or bitters or tonic is a nice way to balance the natural sweetness of fruit juice or the sugar in something like a simple syrup. But I often find myself wanting something to sip on that isn’t alcoholic, yet still possesses the balance of sweet/tart/strong that a cocktail has.  I love Kombucha, which is both uncloyingly sweet and tart and effervescent, but dude, that stuff is pricey.

I was thinking about this conundrum the other day and remembered reading about shrubs, or “drinking vinegars.”  Basically,  shrubs are vinegars that have been infused with fruit and sometimes sugar, which you can drink with sparkling water for a sweet and tart sparkling beverage.  I decided to try this with someBragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which, if you believe the customer reviews on Amazon, will cure a laundry list of ailments, from dandruff to allergies to problems with sleeping, and some fresh peaches.  It’s an acquired taste to be sure, and the taste is definitely more vinegar than peach, but I love the uber-tartness of it when I dilute it with some sparkling water. My sweetheart, on the other hand, can’t stand the stuff.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Peach Shrub

Peach Shrub

Peach Shrub Recipe

  • 1 pound peaches
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 10 to 20 fresh basil leaves
  1. Halve, pit, and cut the peaches into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium, nonreactive bowl.
  2. Add the sugar and toss until the peaches are thoroughly coated and most of the sugar has dissolved. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days, checking after 1 day to make sure that all the sugar on the bottom has dissolved. (If the sugar hasn’t dissolved, toss again.)
  3. Add the vinegar and basil and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 7 to 10 days.
  4. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the peach mixture, pressing on it with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to extract all of the liquid; discard the contents of the strainer. Transfer the peach shrub to a pint jar or container, cover with a tightfitting lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.  Drink with sparkling water over ice.