Make your own shrub – or drinking vinegar

This week, Gizmodo author Alissa Walker shared an interesting article, ‘How to Use Vinegar to Make Your Cocktails Amazing’. Here in Singapore, different types of bottled drinking vinegar concentrate are available from Taiwan, Japan and Korea and are easily found on supermarket shelves. It sells as a refreshing drink to have when mixed with cold water. More often than not, they’re high in fructose, syrup, or added sugar and can be really sweet. If you’re counting your sugar levels, this is definitely not ideal.

Asian drinking vinegar, photo by Meister

So, why not make your own?

In drink terms, you will be making a ‘shrub’. According to our fave informal encyclopdia,

The word “shrub” can also refer to a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing a vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The term “shrub” can also be applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrub_(drink)

According to Alissa, this is pretty simple to do. “The idea is to macerate the fruit with a bunch of sugar to create a syrup, which you then add to vinegar. But the key is letting it chill in the fridge for a few days—maybe a week or more,” she shared. She also attached a few recipes, but once you get the hang of it, customization is possible. Throw in herbs for a different aroma, or change up the fruits. And the good news – you are watching the amount of added sugar going into your shrub.

Our vinegars may up the ante on your shrub – consider a cherry, raspberry or a lemon vinegar for a different kind of tartness and colour to the drink.

Fruit shrub drink from thekitchn

What you’ll need:

  • Solid fruits – these fruits do not need to look pretty. You will be mushing this up, so even old fruits that are bruised or really ripe. Alissa shared peaches and strawberries on her post, but we can mix up melons, papayas, and other tropical fruits. Don’t go canned though, we are already adding sugar to the mix.
  • Sugar – the regular white sugar used in drinks and cooking is good. How much? I’ll share below.
  • Optional – fresh herbs to give an aroma. I agree with Alissa’s choice of basil or mint.
  • A mason jar or a container to store your shrub
  • A strainer
  • A mixing bowl
  • Of course, vinegar of your choice. Alissa uses apple cider vinegar, but we recommend experimenting with our range of vinegars.

What to do:

  1. Chop up the fruit of your choice into little bits. It’s okay if they get a bit mushy as we want the juices to mix with the vinegar. Toss it all (and juices) into the mixing bowl.
  2. Put in enough sugar to coat the fruits, probably a good dusting will do. If you are watching your sugar levels, take it down a notch. The shrub will be a bit sour.
  3. Macerate! Stir the fruits and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. If you went a bit rough, that’s good.
  4. Strain the mixture into your mason jar.
  5. Add an equal amount of vinegar to the jar.
  6. Leave it in your fridge for a week. Shake it once or twice daily and definitely give a good shake before use.

 

There’s your shrub! Mix it with cold water, sparkling water, soda water, or bourbon for a refreshing summer drink. Thanks to the vinegar, this will last a few weeks due to vinegar inhibiting the growth of bacteria. This should help with the intense Singapore heat!