Shrubs are bringing it back- old school

puritans-drinking-from-pewter-mugs-in-colonial-massachusetts200 years ago, it wasn’t really the thing to stroll on down to the corner store and enjoy a nice cold soda, but then, as well as now, when the mercury boils over, it’s nice to enjoy a refreshing drink that isn’t plain-old-water. Two centuries ago, the go-to summer soda pop alternative was something called a shrub. These drinks were very popular and incredibly simple to make. They capitalized on fresh summer produce like rhubarb, apples and berries. In an age before refrigeration, people had no other choice than to eat seasonally and that meant that once the berries were gone, they were gone. With shrubs, however, the preservative effects of acid and sugar kept berries and other fruit picked at the peak of ripeness edible for much longer. Shrubs are a simple and delicious way of prolonging the harvest.
After reading about these intriguing drinks, I decided to give shrubs an honest go.
The recipe is simple. Mix roughly equal amounts of fruit and sugar together and then let them get to know each other for a few days. This process is called maceration and it is an age-old technique. Sugar is not only a natural sweetener but it is also a great preservative (has the sugar in your cupboard ever gone bad?). The syrup produced from this process is then mixed with an acid (traditionally vinegar) to produce a sweet and sour concentrate that can be diluted with soda water, plain-old-water or if you’re so inclined, something with a little more personality.
After experimenting with the acids of both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, the clear winner in the taste test was a modern adaptation with lemon juice but that’ just me…you can be the judge when you try these amazing, time-testing early versions of soda pop yourself.photo-shrub

Blueberry Shrub
2 c. blueberries, mashed
1 c. granulated sugar
Let the first two ingredients macerate for three days, stirring occasionally
Strain the resultant syrup and measure.
Mix in equal amount of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as syrup.
Dilute with your favourite carrier.

photo-shrub3photo-shrub1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Shrub
2 peaches, peeled and chopped
1 c. granulated sugar
Let the first two ingredients macerate for three days, stirring occasionally
Strain the resultant syrup and measure.
Mix in equal amount of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as syrup.
Dilute with your favourite carrier.photo-shrub2

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