Peach-lavender shrub, also known as drinking vinegar, is the perfect summer refresher. Usually mixed with cold or sparkling water, shrubs are the perfect drink mixer. I get it, drinking vinegar, has never really excited most people. However, the peach-lavender shrub is truly a pretty amazing summer drink. When diluted with cold or sparkling water, club soda or ginger ale, scrubs are very refreshing; tart and sweet all at the same time.
The dog days are usually the hottest days of summer. For farmers, the dog days of summer indicate a good year. There is a saying with farmers: Dog days bright and clear, indicate a good year, but when accompanied by rain, we hope for better times in vain.
Shrub originated in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices to preserve berries and other fruits for the off-season. A shrub on its own is a mixture of syrup that consists of three ingredients: fruits, sugar and vinegar. You don’t need more to create a flavor explosion. It’s as simple as it gets.
A shrub will change and mellow over time for the better. I let my shrubs mellow for at least 5 days so the flavor can develop and create the perfect blend of tart and sweet. The beauty is not only the simplicity of making a shrub, but the recipe also has only natural ingredients. No food color, no preservatives and no artificial flavors.
Food has a way of transporting us back to our past, bringing back happy childhood memories. My childhood food memory is not only about our simplified version of a shrub, but it’s also about summertime. The whole experience of being boys, exploring and running in the woods with my brothers, coming home on a hot summer day and mixing the best summer drink ever. For us that was heaven!
I remember the time to go home was when the street lights turned on; that was our signal to get in gear and get back on time. We were easy to impress, we didn’t need any sodas and we shared our delicious summer drink concoction with our friends. Ice cold tap water, a splash of distilled white vinegar and as a bonus – a splash of raspberry syrup.
Fruits used for Shrubs:
Because there are no flavor enhancers added to the shrub, it’s important to select a good quality fruit.
I looked at the farmers market for a local organic peach. Sitting to the side was a box with slightly bruised, slightly overripe peaches. Peaches that were put on the side because no one wanted them. That was exactly what I was looking for, the perfect imperfect peach to make my peach shrub. Bruised apricots, pears, apples, rhubarb, smashed berries or overripe peaches are just some of the fruits that can be turned into a shrub.
How to pick the right vinegar:
Using apple cider vinegar is a good start. In my recipe, I use Bragg, an organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. To be honest, what got my attention was their statement on the bottle claiming to be Health Crusaders since 1912. You can play with all kinds of vinegar, from rice vinegar to balsamic, to red wine vinegar… all work and after making a few shrubs you will find your favorite.
How to store a Shrub:
It is recommended to store shrub in the refrigerator. The recipe has 2.5 cups of organic cider vinegar. That is almost half of all of the ingredients and apple cider vinegar is known to be a natural preservative.
While, in general, vinegar stops the growth of bacteria, it is important to sterilize the bottles and store the shrub in the refrigerator.
Sterilize the glass bottle by first washing in hot water and soap, then scald the bottle and caps in boiling water. Tightly sealed, your shrub should last about 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator. Opened and used occasionally, it should last 6-8 weeks. Keep in mind, your shrub will age and eventually become a fruit vinegar. There are some people that claim shrubs will keep indefinitely without refrigeration, again I do not recommend this.
How to use a Shrub:
A shrub is almost never consumed by itself. Diluted, they are an amazing refreshing summer drink. The sweet, tart, peach-lavender fruit syrup is awesome in soda or on ice cream. In cocktails, think of it as the acid/citrus agent in the drink. Or you may want to mix with unsweetened black or green tea for a refreshing summer drink. I even use the peach-lavender shrub as a base for my salad dressing. Think of a shrub as an opportunity and have fun experimenting with them and other ingredients.
Strawberry Hibiscus Shrub:
Another great summer shrub made from slightly overripe strawberries. Strawberries that you would throw out in a couple of days. The recipe is basically the same as the peach shrub, replacing the peaches with strawberries and hibiscus petals.
I really like the strawberry hibiscus shrub, great flavor with a deep red color that is infused from adding hibiscus petals.
A deep, vibrant and refreshing flavor.
You will love the fact that you created a simple summer drink.
The sweet, tart, peach-lavender fruit syrup is awesome in soda or on ice cream.
As simple as it gets, and as a bonus, you are not wasting any fruit.
I let my shrubs mellow for at least 5 days so the flavor can develop and create the perfect blend of tart and sweetness.
You decide what fruit you want to use, there are no limits.
Bruised apricots, pears, apples, rhubarb, smashed berries or overripe peaches are just some of the fruit that can be turned into a shrub.
Think of a shrub as an opportunity and have fun experimenting with them adding other ingredients.