Spring is in full motion and our gardens are beginning to flourish with cold-hardy veggies and perennials. One sought-after sign of spring for us Minnesotans is the first glimpse of rhubarb beginning to peak from the soil. At this point in the season, though, many of you non-Minnesotans are already harvesting rhubarb and wondering how to use the abundance.
You could, of course, simmer it into a delicious jam or bake a mouthwatering pie. But have you considered making a batch or two of rhubarb shrub (essentially a flavored drinking vinegar)?
There are multiple methods for making shrub. I, however, prefer this no-heat “slow method,” as it retains the fresh fruit flavor and, in my opinion, tastes best.
Yield: 2-3 cups finished shrub
Rhubarb Shrub Ingredients
1.5 cups rhubarb, chopped (fresh or frozen) (Discard the green leaves. They are poisonous!)
1.5 cups white granulated sugar
Days later: 1.5 cups organic apple cider vinegar (or other drinking vinegar of choice)
Scrub rhubarb clean, then chop and combine with sugar in a clean pint canning jar. Shake jar to mix sugar and rhubarb well.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, dampened towel and apply the canning jar lid. Tightly screw on the ring.
Store the jar of rhubarb shrub at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Allow the mixture to macerate over a couple days, until you have a thick syrup. A few times per day, vigorously shake the mixture to speed up the process. (Or you can use a clean spoon to stir well.)
After two to three days, once the sugar has dissolved and a syrup is made, use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the solids, reserving the syrup in a measuring cup. Use the back of a spoon to push out any excess syrup.
Once strained, measure the amount of syrup that was collected and add that same amount of vinegar to the syrup (it will be 1-1.5 cups of vinegar). Stir well to mix.
Store in a clean, airtight jar and refrigerate. Enjoy your rhubarb shrub within a few months for best flavor.
Mix about a shot of the rhubarb shrub mixture with water or carbonated water. Then just serve over ice.
Shrubs also make delicious and unique cocktail mixers.
You can also use brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or other sugar alternative in place of white granulated sugar.
This method of shrub-making can be applied to any fruits and herb combinations. Strawberry shrub is my all-time favorite.
Don’t toss the strained-out fruit solids! They are delicious mixed into plain yogurt or oatmeal, or blended into a smoothie.
This recipe was adapted from WECK Small-Batch Preserving (2018) with permission from Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.