1. Why ?
Shrubs are a stunning and easy way to preserve summer fruit and veg. And you can use them in a million different ways.
2. What ?
Summer fruits shine through in shrubs. It’s a great way of rescuing bruised, smashed or over-ripe fruit: cherries, currants, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, peaches, apricots, and nectarines. In autumn, go for plums, apples, quince, and pears. Tomatoes, cucumber and beetroot also work well.
3. How ?
Whisk a 50/50 mix of vinegar (any kind: cider, balsamic, red wine, white wine, brown rice…) and sugar (or use honey, agave, maple syrup…). Roughly chop your fruit. Leave berries and currants whole. Pack them into a clean jam or kilner jar. Completely cover with the liquid. Let it steep in the fridge for as little as a day or as long as a year.
4. Then ?
The tart, drinkable vinegar, softened with sugar and time, is a celebrated drink in America’s deep south. Strain into a glass of ice and top up with tonic or sparkling water. Or use the fruit vinegar as the base for a salad dressing, whisking it in equal measure with olive or sesame oil.
5. If your fruits are still perky, treat them like pickles to serve alongside cured or roast meats, on a cheese board, in sandwiches, or toss into salads. If they’ve lost their shape, use them to marinade meats like pork or lamb chops.
6. Flavour matches…
• Raspberries steeped in a balsamic shrub with black peppercorns.
• Gooseberries with ginger and lemongrass in a brown rice vinegar base.
• Peaches with basil, chilli and cider vinegar.
• Cherries in red wine vinegar with cinnamon and cloves.
• Rhubarb in white wine vinegar with vanilla.