If you’ve ever made your own pickles and preserves, it’s time for you to try shrubs. Not to be confused with kombucha, these vinegar-based syrups combine fruit and, you guessed it, vinegar to create a refreshingly tart drink. Use any mix of seasonal fruit, good-quality vinegar (apple cider or balsamic get our vote) and a touch of sugar. Once it’s ready, serve topped up with sparkling water. Add a splash of gin too, if you fancy.
- 2 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 300–400 g sugar
1. Sterilise the glass you’re using for storage. Wash the jar in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Submerge in a pot of warm water to cover by 5 cm, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Wash the lid in hot, soapy water; rinse well, then scald in boiling water.
2. Carefully remove the jar from the water using tongs and place on the counter. Place the prepared fruit into the jar.
3. Place the vinegar in a saucepan and heat to just below boiling point. Pour the vinegar over the fruit, leaving at least 1–2 cm space in the jar. Wipe the rim using a clean, damp cloth, and close tightly.
4. Allow the vinegar to cool completely, then store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard or the fridge. Allow to stand for at least 24 hours or for up to 4 weeks until the desired flavour is reached. Generally, overnight will do the trick.
5. Strain the fruit from the vinegar using damp cheesecloth or coffee filter. Do this at least once or repeat as desired until the vinegar shows no cloudiness. Discard the fruit or save it for another purpose such as in a preserve or chutney.
6. Place the fruit-infused vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and cool. Meanwhile, re-sterilise the storage jar and lid. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar and seal tightly.
7. Store the shrub syrup in the refrigerator. It can last for up to 6 months, tightly sealed. Taste before using to make sure the flavour is still good. Discard immediately if it has mould or any signs of fermentation, such as bubbling, cloudiness, or sliminess.
8. To serve, mix 1 T shrub syrup with a glass of still or sparkling water. Taste and add more syrup, if desired. Shrub syrups can also be used as cocktail mixers or in salad dressings.
Production: Bianca Strydom
Photograph: Jan Ras
Food assistant: Ellah Maepa