How to Make Shrubs to Make Your Own Soda

Taken from NPR’s Here and Now, aired Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015

Shrubs are becoming trendy. The vinegar and fruit syrup can be made into a refreshing drink or, with the addition of alcohol, an out-of-the box cocktail.

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst has been making her own shrubs with various fruits and vinegars and brings four for host Robin Young to sample: Shiso-Plum Shrub, Blueberry Red Wine Shrub, Caramelized Apple Shrub and Concord Grape and Balsamic Vinegar Shrub.

To make a drink, mix one tablespoon of shrub with up to a 1/3 of a cup of seltzer and add ice. Adjust to taste – you may prefer more shrub or more seltzer. In addition to making drinks, Gunst says shrubs can also be used in sweet and savory dishes.

More recipes from chef Kathy Gunst

Shiso-Plum Shrub

Kathy’s Note: Shiso, also called Japanese basil, is a gorgeous maroon color. If you can’t find fresh shiso, use fresh basil. This gorgeous pink shrub is excellent served with ice cold seltzer and a slice of cucumber. It’s also excellent stirred with sake (Japanese rice wine) and a slice of fresh cucumber.

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 1/2 packed cups shiso leaf or fresh opal or green basil
2 ripe plums, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add shiso; simmer about 10 minutes. Add the plums, and cook another 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook 5 minutes. Let steep for 1 hour.

Strain the mixture through a double layer cheesecloth set over a strainer into a bowl. Place in a well-sealed glass jar; the shrub will last in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Blueberry Red Wine Shrub

Kathy’s Note: This shrub is refreshing with a splash of seltzer and a slice of lime. It can also transform into a sophisticated cocktail with the addition of a generous splash of white tequila and freshly-squeezed lime juice; add a thin slice of lime onto the side of a well-chilled martini-style glass. Feel free to add ice cubes.

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (look for wild Maine blueberries)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 8 minutes. Add the blueberries and cook 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook 5 minutes. Cool and then strain. The shrub will keep in a well-sealed glass jar for several weeks.
Caramelized Apple Shrub

Kathy’s Note: This shrub combines fresh fall apples, maple syrup, a touch of thyme and apple cider vinegar. It is delicious served with ice cold seltzer, but can also be cooked down and added to fresh slices of peeled apple for a savory condiment, or it can be brushed onto roast pork and glazed during the final hour of cooking.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (look for one without preservatives)

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan bring the sugar, maple syrup and water to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until a pale caramel color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the thyme and apples and cook another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain through a fine meshed strainer. Keep in a well-sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Concord Grape and Balsamic Shrub

Kathy’s Note: Rich purple in color and sweet and sour in taste, this shrub is delicious hot or cold. Look for wild grapes or seasonal grapes at fall farmers’ markets.

You can serve a few tablespoons of this shrub in seltzer water or mix it with dark rum and ice cubes. A savory option: boil the shrub down until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Heat a tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Season 1 pound fresh scallops (lightly coated in seasoned flour) and add to the hot skillet. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Add 1 tablespoon of the reduced shrub to the skillet to make a delicious sauce.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Concord grapes
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Instructions:
Boil water and sugar, reduce heat to moderate and simmer for 10 minutes. Add grapes and cook 5 minutes. Add vinegar and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain.
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About gleefulee

Retired after 33 years of teaching English and French (one year in private school in Memphis, TN and the rest in public school in Doniphan, MO. Enjoying new adventures - all those things I put off for lack of time, energy, now I can try them! Pottery, writing, traveling, camping, kayaking, dancing, listening to some of the best live music ever, and making passionate, lively new friendships. All christened with an appreciation for great red wine! Created and operated KC's on the Current, then sold it and managed it for new owners. Now totally retired and looking for my summers to be full of fun as well! Born and raised in St. Louis, MO
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