In terms of mixed drinks, shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.
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.
In my case, I wanted to create a vinegar based fruit syrup that I could can and then later add to a variety of bases such as sparkling water or ginger ale. A couple years ago we were introduced to shrubs at an artisan pizza restaurant that offered a strawberry-black pepper shrub that was quite tasty. There are lots of recipes for creating shrub concentrates, but almost all of them are for a refrigerated end product. I wanted to be able to can up a batch, or several various flavored batches as we harvest the fruits and berries in our gardens and around the property.
|Dehydrated Glaskins Rhubarb, Berries Galore|
and Ozark Beauty Strawberries.
I then pulled together everything I needed to create and can the shrub. The recipe I started with called for fresh fruit and also used different spices but I prepped my dehydrated stores and opted to use black pepper as the spice:
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
6 black peppercorns per 1/2 pint canning jar
I prepped half pint jars and lids for canning and put water in the water bath canner to bring to a boil. With the above ingredient list I was thinking that 10 half-pint jars (10 cups) would be enough for the batch. I know, the fruit, sugar and vinegar add up to 11 cups but my thinking was that when the sugar dissolved it would not take up as much space. But, to be on the safe side I did prep 12 jars. In fact, I only had ten empty half-pints on my pantry shelves ready to be reused so I had to open a new box of jars to take out two more. I told myself that according to Murphy's Law if I did not open that new box to prep those two extra jars I would be in the middle of filling the batch and realize I was running short of jars.
I started preparing the shrub by adding the vinegar, sugar and salt to my maslin jam pan and heated it to dissolve the sugar. I then added my fruit and heated it just below the boil. I wanted the mixture to be hot to put in the jars but did not want it to get foamy so I took it off the heat as soon as I saw foam just starting to form.
I am a little OCD about getting equal amounts of ingredients in jars when canning things like soup. I usually add the individual ingredients in layers rather than cooking a big batch and ladling in random scoops that may not evenly disperse the ingredients across all the jars. I am not digressing (for once), I am explaining why my next step involved using a slotted spoon to scoop the fruit out of the shrub mixture and evenly distribute it into each jar. I scooped up a spoonful with my slotted spoon and used my canning jar funnel to place the spoonful in each jar which filled them about half-way with fruit. This seemed like a good amount to me and when I fished out my last spoonful of fruit from the shrub liquid I had filled 10 jars. Did you get that irony? Is that Murphy's Law in reverse or Murphy's Law2? I calculated 10 jars, then assumed Murphy's Law would strike so I over-compensated with 12 jars and then I filled 10 jars with fruit. Oh, well.