Prep 15 mins
Cook 5 mins
Shrubs, also called drinking vinegars, are restorative drinks from the Colonial days predating soda pops and sports drinks. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, mixed with cool water to provide a pick-me-up on hot summer days. A proper shrub has a flavor that's both tart and sweet, so it stimulates the appetite while quenching thirst. Don’t be surprised by the pickled taste; remember that these are meant to be blended with soda water or cocktails. Steeping time not included in preparation time.
- 1 cup elderberry
- 1 cup cider vinegar (unpasteurized, if you can get it)
- sugar (about 1 1/2 cups, or to taste)
- soda water, to serve
- Wash and dry the elderberries, place them in a pint-size jar or non-reactive bowl, and lightly crush using a fork or potato masher.
- Add vinegar and stir to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, occasionally shaking the jar or stirring the contents of the bowl.
- Give the mixture a good shake or stir and then strain using a fine-mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth.
- Discard the solids.
- Measure the liquid.
- For every cup of liquid, use 1 cup of sugar.
- Combine liquid and sugar in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
- Let cool; bottle, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (the longer it steeps, the more mellow the flavor).
- To serve, mix with sparking water. Start with 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water and adjust to taste. The syrup may also be mixed with plain water or used in cocktails.