I look at these plums and they seem to me to be the most perfect fruit. But, really, if I’m to be honest about it all, they’re pretty imperfect. Loveable, yes. Sweet, YES! But each plum has been eaten and nibbled here and there, and most hold the scar of some animal traveling through or taking a taste. This isn’t fruit bowl fruit, these are begging for preservation. I’m going to work on a batch of jam with the last of them today. The first triumphant picking, however, became a shrub.
Essentially a shrub is a drinking vinegar (sounds strange–tastes good!), which, when combined with bubbly water, lends itself to a drink of outstandingly refreshing tang and flavor. Take it from there to build cocktails–this adds both the sweet and the acid so you can go pretty simple here. The vinegar and the sugar preserve the flavor of the fruit, and rumor has it a bottle of this stuff will last a year in the fridge. There are several ways to make a shrub, all pretty easy. I followed this one (with a slight sugar reduction), and I’ll do again as soon as I have a truckload of lovable fruit. I’m drinking shrub and bubbly through most afternoons these days. My only problem is the bubbly–I think it might be time to buy a home seltzer maker. This is getting a little out of control.
As is my general custom, I made A LOT of this. I brought several bottles to the last FSC food swap and I’m moving through the rest of it at quite a pace. But you can work with how ever much fruit you have as long as you keep to the general ratio, which is: 1 cup chopped fruit to 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup vinegar (and I’ll give a recipe for a manageable quantity below). Most people make their shrubs with apple cider vinegar, but I’m hearing rumors of great success with balsamic and red wine vinegar as well. With this method, you combine the fruit and the sugar to macerate in the fridge for a while, then strain the fruit out of the syrup. Add the vinegar to the syrup, shake it all up, and then it’s done.
Plum Ginger Shrub
(This will make somewhere between 4 and 5 cups)
2 cups quartered, pitted plums
1 2 to 3-inch finger of ginger, unpeeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar (go for the good raw stuff if you can)
1. In a medium bowl, combine the plums, ginger, and sugar. Stir well, and cover. Let the bowl sit in the fridge until most of the sugar has turned to liquid, about a day. Pop in there and stir it around every so often if you can.
2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruit and ginger from the syrup. Set the fruit and ginger aside.* Stir to continue to dissolve any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.
3. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve, and transfer to bottles. Store in the refrigerator.
(When you’re ready to drink your shrub, start with just a bit! You’ll find the concentration you like, but a little goes a long way.)
*And what to do with all that sugary fruit? It loses a bit of its flavor in the process, but there’s plenty left. I threw the plums and the ginger in the blender for a pretty fantastic little sauce, and then I made fruit leather out of it, like this:
The result was a sweet plum SUPER ginger fruit roll-up, which I have to say is pretty wonderful. And the sauce itself (pre-dehydrated) might be the best addition to yogurt I’ve had in a long time. So you get a few different products in one here.
Happy Monday, friends. Last bit of August–let’s drink it up together.