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Get to know your shrubs

By Neil Yamamoto

The name "shrubs" comes from the Arabic word "sharab" which can mean "to drink" or "wine" depending on the regional dialect. Shrubs were an early preservation method combining fruits and herbs with vinegar to produce a tonic.

Shrubs as we know them here in the USA originated in England and were used in place of citrus juices. In eastern US farming communities, they made a variation that is still found today known as Switchel; apple cider vinegar, ginger, and honey.

Shrubs made with apple cider vinegar are a great source of electrolytes. They help the body maintain healthy PH levels, blood sugar levels, can aid digestion, and are delicious!

It's easy to make your own shrubs using whatever fruits and berries you have on hand. The typical recipe uses equal parts fruit, sweetener/sugar, and vinegar.

Shrubs are great to experiment with since it's hard to make a mistake. Try different vinegars such as Champagne or Coconut. Use different sweeteners like agave or maple syrup. If you do use agave, you may want to reduce the amount of agave by about 1/3 since it's sweeter tasting than sugar. Make more savory versions using vegetables and fruits such as beets, cucumbers, and whatever herbs or spices you like. Ginger, basil, tarragon, and lemongrass all add a unique twist. The combinations are endless!

Here are a couple recipes to get you started.

Lime Ginger Shrub

1 lb limes, washed and sliced thinly
2 cups apple cider vinegar
8-10 oz agave syrup OR 2 cups coconut sugar
1-2 oz thinly sliced ginger

Combine the above in a glass container and let sit at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours. Letting it sit longer will increase the lime bitterness. Strain out the fruit and refrigerate the syrup. To make a beverage, combine 1.5-2oz with water or soda. Add more sweetener to taste.

Hibiscus Habanero Citrus Shrub

3-4 oz dried hibiscus flowers
1 medium lime washed and sliced thinly
1medium lemon, washed and sliced thinly
1 medium orange washed and sliced thinly
6-8 cracked peppercorns
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-2 cups coconut sugar OR 8-10 oz agave

Combine the above in a glass container and let sit at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours. Strain out the fruit and refrigerate the syrup. To make a beverage, combine 1.5-2oz with water or soda. Add more sweetener to taste.

June 2018

Neil Yamamoto is the bartender at Revolve True Food & Wine Bar in Bothell. Revolve, whether in the kitchen or bar, strives to give you the healthiest, most delicious food. Feel good about eating out!


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