Inspired by a recent trip to Portland (see previous post), I set off to make my own drinking vinegar, also known as a shrub, or in culinary terms a gastrique.
I followed an old NYT recipe from 2008 by Toby Cecchini
Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts, depending on fruit used.
These measurements can be played with quite liberally, as some fruits contain more natural sugars.
2 quarts fruit, use any fruit, pears, figs, raspberries, cherries
1 liter apple-cider vinegar (preferably Bragg) or other vinegar.
1/2 to 1 cup raw sugar
1. Rinse the fruit and discard any rot. Place in a large non-reactive or ceramic pot and mash for several minutes with your hands or a wooden spoon to break up. Pour in enough vinegar to cover and top with a lid. Let macerate at room temperature for a week, stirring once a day. (Do not be alarmed by the smell or the sludge on top).
2. After a week, stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar and gently boil for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly then strain. (The smell created from boiling is a bit offensive, so open doors and windows.)
3. Make a test shrub: cool 3 to 4 tablespoons of the fruit mixture. Fill a 20-ounce glass with ice. Add water or soda water to almost the rim, then add the chilled fruit mixture. Taste to determine sweetness. If it is too tart, add sugar to the fruit mixture, little by little, while still hot. Cool fully and funnel into bottles. Will keep indefinitely in refrigerator.
Well, the shrub was a success! I am already planning my next batch, which will be Meyer lemon;-).
When using dark fruit such as blackberries, you may wish to use gloves as the juice tends to stain. I had splattering issues when straining pulp in cheesecloth and my hands took on a purple tint.
choc tee ka and choc tee khap!