Okay! a little history abour drinking or sipping vinegars. They are hot right now and new to many people but truly they are old and have been around the world, literally. Ships captains used to ensure a daily dose if not two to the sailors onboard. It was thought to fight off scurvy, perk up the men after hard work and combat epidemics and “putrefaction”. The thought was also that due to the kick of the vinegar the seamen might stay away from stronger spirits. (I don’t think that part worked out very well).
Switchels, shrubs and haymaker’s punch are kissing cousins in the food world. A sweetened flavoured vinegar diluted to a thirst quenching summertime drink with still or carbonated water or soda of some sort. And if you are out to impress the guests at this years BBQ, vodka, gin, tequila or some other bit of firewater can be added. These days shrubs are being madly experiments upon, with flavours like smoky beet and Chinese celery.
This raspberry tarragon vinegar syrup will give you a place to begin. Fresh local fruit, herbs from just out the back door, your vinegar of choice and some time will get you started. The sugar comes later.
You will need:
2 cups raspberries
2 cups vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
1 – 2 stems fresh tarragon ( about 14 inches per stem)
After washing place the container in warm water with enough extra water to cover several inches and bring to a boil. Let the water simmer for up to 10 minutes.
Pop the cap into that same simmering water for the last two minutes of processing time for the container.
This is not canning preparation. It is however making sure that the mixture which will need to sit for two weeks is doing so in as sterile an environment as possible.
While the container is in the pot, sort through the raspberries, taking out any soft or moldy berries.
Place the vingar in a pot and over medium heat bring the vinegar to 190 degrees, below boiling but you should see steam and bubbles.
Making sure not to burn any fingers (use tongs) remove the container from the hot water. Empty it of any remaining water and place on the stove top. Transfer the prepared fruit in the container.
Pour the vinegar over the fruit and herb mixture, leaving at least 1/4-inch space at the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of any drips with a clean, damp cloth. Cap firmly.
The vinegar can now cool completely before storing it in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or the refrigerator. The longer the bottle stands the stronger the flavour will be. This batch sat two weeks but anywhere between 48 hours and 4 weekswill work.
When ready, separate the vinegar from the fruit with a sieve or through a strainer or even a coffee filter. You are looking for a clear sparking product. If too much extra material is getting through try again with a smaller filter.
Choose to keep the raspberries for another project (I have heard chutney suggested) or discard.
Return the raspberry vinegar to the pot and add the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour into a clean, sterilized container. I used the original white wine vinegar bottle and a smaller container for the extra, going through the first steps of washing and simmering in water again.
Properly sealed, it can last for up to 6 months.
Tasting before using, making sure the flavor is still good is a good plan. If the bottle shows signs of sliminess, bubbling, cloudiness or mold, do not use.
When serving, combine raspberry tarragon shrub syrup with still or sparkling water, in a glass at a ratio starting at 1 Tbsp. to 8 ounces liquid. Adjust to suit your taste.
Shrubs can also be added to cocktails like the gin and tonic shown below. There are many different combinations to experiment with.
The fun is only just beginning. You can even try a teaspoon over cheesecake. (If you think I am a little off check out traditional uses for balsamic vinegar).
Put your feet up and enjoy some summer fun.
Raspberry Shrub from My Kitchen Wand