While I was vacationing on Mackinaw Island, I came across a beautiful bottle of colorful liquid- "Sipping Vinegar" the label described. I was intrigued. What was this, from McClary's in Michigan? I have always been a proponent of the health benefits of naturally fermented apple cider vinegar, and have been known to sip a tsp. of Bragg's with a cup of water, but flavored vinegar sounded delicious. Plus, it looked like it was a wonderful addition to a cocktail. Well, I love cocktails! And, vinegar mixed with water is a bit off- putting.
I figured that i could make my own! So, off to the internet to do some research and into my kitchen to experiment.
Well, I love rhubarb- the color of rhubarb makes me want to suck on the stalk! The magenta hued celery is captivatingly inviting. (Why don't more artists paint this plant?) The taste is another thing, and not many people like the sourpuss tartness. Much too pretty to pass up or to bake into pies and tarts, I knew a "shrub" was the right approach!
Thankyou Carey from Reclaiming Provincial for posting some delicious recipes, and becoming the inspiration of my experimentation. A shrub is a fruit vinegar syrup made from fresh fruit, sugar and vinegar. The ratio can be played with, but basically a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar and vinegar is the place to start. The variations on this are enormous; a variety of sugars are available (brown , white, turbinado, honey) for different layers of sweetness, different vinegars and there are just so many different fruits to choose from here in Northern Michigan. Add dried herbs and spices to the mix for even more flavor layers.
I wanted to incorporate apple cider vinegar into my shrub for it's extensive health benefits. Apple cider vinegar is great for digestion, is an antimicrobial, can lower blood sugar levels, and may even have some heart health benefits. Don't trust me, just read about apple cider vinegar here.
If you use apple cider vinegar though, please don't heat it up. Why destroy the wonderful live fermented organisms in your vinegar?
I'm always in a hurry though- and cooking the rhubarb with sugar and a little white distilled vinegar gets the juices flowing. I cook my shrub vinegar- and not everybody does. You can easily take the slow approach and toss your fruit with sugar and let it sit out for a day. On day two add the vinegar and continue letting your vinegar sit out to steep slowly. For me, cooking the fruit with the sugar and some distilled white vinegar gets everything moving more quickly. And i use a 3:2:3 ratio, a little less sugar than what is traditional. The distilled vinegar doesn't affect the taste either.
Once you have the shrub, you can add this vinegar to your sparkling water, or into a cocktail. I love this simple Rhubarb Shrub! The color is amazing and so wonderfully appealing. The color is perfect for a summer picnic cocktail. The tartness of the rhubarb just shines against a vodka or a light rum. It's not too sweet either, suprisingly. Just the right balance.
Did you know that Johnny Jump Ups, Nasturtiums, Marigolds, and Pansies are edible? Use them to dress up your cocktail! Add some summertime bling!
- 2 cups Rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 10 peppercorns mashed
- 1 1/3 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
- 2 8 ounce canning jars or one large 16 ounce canning jar , sterilized
Toss the diced rhubarb and peppercorns with sugar. Let sit for one hour. Put sugared rhubarb and white distilled vinegar into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook until boiling. Turn down heat and boil slowly for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sugar should be completely dissolved. Take off of heat, macerate the mixture and let sit overnight. The fruit should be very loose and mashed. The next day add apple cider vinegar and let it sit for at least a couple of hours. Strain the fruit pieces out through a colander. Strain again through a fine mesh strainer and bottle. Makes about 2 cups of syrup.
Ginger Simple Syrup
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 cup Turbinado Sugar
- 3/4 cup Water
- 1 8 ounce canning jar
Chop the ginger into little pieces. Put the sugar, ginger and water into a saucepan over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Let the mixture sit for one hour on the stove. Cool and strain. Bottle in sterlized canning jar. Refrigerate.
Ruby Red Rhubarb Slipper
- 2 ounces Rhubarb Shrub
- 2 ounce Vodka ( I like Tito's)
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger simple syrup
- 6 ounces sparkling soda
- lots of ice cubes!
If you like it tangier (more vinegar), add more shrub and less sparkling soda. Yum.
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