veggie garden

How I created a ‘shrubbery’

…or drink your vinegar—you know it is good for you!

Morning all and many, many apologies for the abandonment of this blog. I hope to get back on track any day soon! I see my last post was in August last year and I can only imagine that it has been my involvement with environment and conservation groups that has drawn my attention away from here. You see, in August last year, while studying, I came across and have been volunteering with them, and almost in parallel, the Australian Conservation Foundation. I feel compelled to do my bit, knowing what I know now about sustainability, social justice and climate change, but that, my friends is ANOTHER post (or maybe several dozen!).

So back on topic: what is a shrub and what does it have to do with vinegar?

Well, when I was visiting my youngest in NYC in March, we went on a little trek to Great Barrington, MA and had a short pit-stop at a little road-side shop which ended up being full to overflowing with all sorts of lovely local produce including jams, pickles, soaps, candles and, as I discovered, shrubs. What I purchased that day, and brought back to Australia, was ‘The Hudson Standard Handcrafted Local Shrub: Winter Switchel’.

The shape of the bottle and the label design pretty much had me from the get go, but this little bottle of tonic is just the bees’ knees. 😀 To quote from the bottle:

‘The Hudson Standard aims to raise the quality of small batch cocktail bitters and syrups by featuring the pure flavours of the Hudson Valley. Our syrups, called shrubs, are distinctly tart and sweet, blending seasonal fruits and spices with organic New York apple cider vinegar… all of our products are handcrafted, natural and sustainable.’

So Winter Switchel contains Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Fresh Ginger, Honey, Organic Sugar, Turmeric, Cayenne and Pepper. It has all the hallmarks of a true tonic and speaks to me of winter warmth!

So, with that list in hand, and after a bit of Googling, I came up with a recipe which I tried out about two months ago. The result?

Something similar to the original, a bit lighter in flavour (less developed) but not too shabby. After boiling and then simmering the 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of grated ginger plus the dried ingredients (a teaspoon of dried turmeric, and half a teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and crushed black peppercorns) I blended in 2 cups of honey. The yield was just on 3 cups of shrub and a cheesecloth that now resembles the Shroud of Turin 😛

I have made three batches of this particular elixir so far, and have dabbled with cold processing (using pomegranates) and did a free-form method (a bit of cold method and a bit of cooking) with strawberries, demerara sugar and black peppercorns, adding in apple cider vinegar and a goodly splash of balsamic.

Vinegar is great for digestion and these shrubs have replaced any sort of syrup we may have bought to go with soda water—a real winner in my books!

PS Thanks to Cast Iron Dan for getting my off my backside and back at the blogging keyboard!


4 thoughts on “How I created a ‘shrubbery’

  1. I know (!): that line from Python goes through my head EVERY time I think of the word shrubbery. LOL. But Google ‘drinking shrubs’ and see what you come up with! I have typed up my ginger-based recipe and will pop it up on the blog when I get a moment 😀

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