Shrub Two Ways

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s inevitable. This time of year especially. You go to the farmers market and drool over the rainbows of produce. The rhubarb has that perfect blush that begs you to bag up more than you could ever use at once and cart it home. The ruby strawberries glimmer, covering tables, overflowing from their containers. You can just imagine how red they are on the inside, and you take one from the little sample bowl to confirm your suspicion. They taste almost as much like candy as they do like fruit, they are so sweet and perfect in every way.

So you haul it all to your car and then to your kitchen. And then reality strikes. It’s Monday again and no, you’re not going to get around to making that strawberry pistachio pie you’ve been pining after, or pickling that rhubarb to go with the pâté you brought home from the market. You feel guilty, seeing those sad fruits softening by the day every time you open the fridge.

When it comes to fruit that is beginning to turn, I used to turn to compote (the rhubarb) or freeze them smoothies (the strawberries), but this summer that all changes. I started making shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. It’s painfully simple, goes perfectly well with just sparkling water on those long warm days when you want something fruity and tangy and refreshing, and can welcome a taste of your favorite gin or tequila when those long summer days turn into warm evenings and you want a cocktail to sip while you light up the grill.

It seems shrubs are the fancier version of my dad’s old “it’s-too-hot-out” beverage: a Perrier with an entire lemon juiced in. Tart and bubbly and immediately cooling. They take a little forethought, yes, but in all they take about 15 minutes to make and your friends or guests or whomever is lucky enough to partake will be impressed and thankful. I promise.


Note: The method for shrubs vary and if you poke around online you’ll find two different ways to make it: one involves your stove, and one involves letting things sit at room temperature overnight. I like the hot process method better for fruit… It’s quicker and I found it makes a more flavorful shrub than the cold process. This coffee balsamic shrub uses the cold process, and if you’re up for something adventurous, I would highly recommend trying it as well – it has become a summer staple in my fridge.

Strawberry and Herb Shrub

Yields 3 cups | I made this with lemon verbena because it has been going crazy in our herb garden, but basil or mint would work well too

Ingredients

1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
1 handful fresh herbs, about 1/4 cup
1 cup granulated sugar
Water
1 cup red wine vinegar

Instructions

In a saucepan combine the strawberries, herbs, and sugar. Pour in 1 cup water and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until the syrup takes on the deep red color of the strawberries and the fruit looks a little wilted and sad, about 6-10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and bring the mixture back to a simmer for 3 minutes. Strain the shrub into a bowl and allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a jar.

To enjoy, fill a glass with ice. Pour 2-3 Tbsp shrub into a glass and fill the rest of the way with sparkling water.

Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub

Yields 3 cups | If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like fennel, feel free to make this with all rhubarb

Ingredients

1/2 lb fennel, about 1 small bulb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb rhubarb, about 3 stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
2-3 star anise
1 cup granulated sugar
Water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Instructions

In a mixing bowl combine fennel, rhubarb, star anise, and sugar in a saucepan. Pour in 1 cup water and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until the sugar is dissolved, rhubarb breaks down and the fennel softens, about 6-10 minutes. Stir in the vinegars and bring the mixture back to a simmer for 3 minutes. Strain the shrub into a bowl and allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a jar.

To enjoy, fill a glass with ice. Pour 2-3 Tbsp shrub into a glass and fill the rest of the way with sparkling water.

One comment

  1. These photos are stunning. And your writing is lovely enough to convince me to drink vinegar. Says something. 🙂

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