Shrubs are a big part of the current cocktail craze, and for good reason – they’re delicious! A shrub is a sweetened vinegar-based syrup, sometimes called drinking vinegar. Shrubs typically consist of vinegar infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in cocktails or in salad dressings; they can also be used to flavour soups and sauces. Inspired by the lavender that’s blooming like mad in my garden, this shrub’s combination of lavender and blueberry is absolutely delicious and the lavender flavour is quite subtle thanks to the relative intensity of blueberries. You can use various types of vinegars as long as they are labeled as having at least 5 percent acidity. I prefer apple cider vinegar which tends to be milder than sharp-tasting white vinegar; wine and balsamic vinegars are also great to work with. Have fun experimenting with different combinations of flavours! Shrubs make fantastic host or hostess gifts.
- 2 cups (500 mL) blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
- 10 sprigs fresh lavender sprigs
- 1 cup (150 mL) apple cider vinegar
- Place blueberries and sugar into a medium bowl. Crush the berries, and then stir to combine.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a dark place on the counter for 2 days. If your home is really hot (above 24C) then place in refrigerator. Stir the mixture occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.
- Meanwhile, place lavender into a nonreactive container, cover with cider vinegar, and cover with a tight lid.
- Store the cider mixture on the counter (or in the fridge if your home is hot) for 2 days.
- Position a fine-mesh strainer in a funnel over a 500 mL canning jar and pour blueberry mixture through to remove solids. Resist the urge to press down on the blueberry mixture with a spoon as this will result in seeds going through the strainer.
- Pour the vinegar mixture over strained blueberry mixture, into the same jar as the blueberry syrup.
- Put the lid on the jar and shake the mixture then place in the refrigerator for a week before using.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze for longer-term storage.
Using the shrub
- Add 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) of shrub to 1.5 ounces of gin or vodka and top with soda water to make a delicious cocktail.
- Combine 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of shrub with 3 – 4 tablespoons of good quality olive oil to make a delicious salad dressing.