The next time you have a surplus of fruit in your kitchen, consider putting the extras to use in a batch of homemade shrub. Shrubs are an old fashioned way of preserving summer fruit for the off season by combining the fruit with vinegar and sugar. The combination is sweet, tart and tangy – and much, much more delicious than a drink made primarily with vinegar than you would ever imagine. You can make shrubs out of all kinds of fruit and I have a post on the Craftsy blog that will walk you through the basics of making three different shrub flavors, including peach, strawberry and raspberry.
Blueberries are one more fruit that make a great shrub – one that is not only delicious, but very intensely colored. The shrub is made with just three ingredients: berries, sugar and apple cider vinegar. You can actually use other types of vinegar, however the mild fruity flavor of the apple cider vinegar makes it an excellent choice for all types of shrubs. White balsamic vinegar also works well, though it can be quite a bit more expensive than regular apple cider vinegar. I typically use a 1:1:1 ratio of all the ingredients in a shrub, but blueberries often need an extra tablespoon or two of sugar, as I find that the sweetness of the berries varies and you don’t want your shrub to be overly tart.
Once your shrub has sat in the refrigerator and is well-infused with flavor, you can use it to make all kinds of sodas and cocktails. I like blueberries and ginger, so I combined the shrub with ginger beer (which is nonalcoholic, despite the name) for a flavorful and refreshing DIY soda. Ginger ale or sparkling water can be substituted for the ginger beer, if you don’t have any on hand.
4 oz blueberries
4.5 oz sugar
4 oz apple cider vinegar
Combine blueberries and sugar in a mason jar or other sealable container. Use a spoon or a potato masher to lightly crush the blueberries, releasing some of their juices. Add in apple cider vinegar and close the container tightly. Shake to combine.
Refrigerate for at least 3-4 days.
Strain out blueberries using a fine sieve and return shrub liquid to refrigerator until ready to serve. Will last almost indefinitely if stored in closed container.
Makes about 1 cup
Ginger & Blueberry Shrub Soda
1 1/2 oz blueberry shrub
6 oz ginger beer
Pour blueberry shrub syrup into the base of a tall glass. Fill with ice, then pour over ginger beer. Stir with a straw before serving.