Pear Shrub Recipe
By: Steven Rodia
Many of my food and drink experiments are driven from reading about new or exciting recipes. When I started reading Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist, I became interested in the history of shrubs. The shrubs I’m referring to here are acidulated beverages made of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients that became popular in America’s colonial era. Long before refrigeration, shrubs were an effective way to keep fruit from spoiling and also allow for easy transportation of the flavored, fruit infused liquid. Sailors were said to use citrus shrubs to fend off scurvy by taking small nips from their stores during a voyage. After falling out of favor, shrubs are back in vogue, both in cocktail recipes and as additives for sodas. The tart and sweet taste of a shrub is said to stimulate the appetite while appeasing your thirst. Sounds great, right? Let’s get started…
Plum Shrub Recipe:
As with many cooking tasks, there is more than one way to reach the same goal. I will include two recipe methods below. The first utilizes the Nomiku immersion circulator device. The second part is a cold process that also works well.
- 1.5 cups of fresh, ripe plums – skin-on, chopped, stone pit removed
- 1 cup of Demerara sugar
- 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (may vary with second/cold method depending on amount of juice)
Sous Vide Plum Shrub Recipe
1.) Wash and prepare your plums. Place the plums and the sugar in a plastic bag and seal using the displacement method (video here) or by using a vacuum sealer. Submerge in the water bath with your Nomiku device set for 150°F and cook sous vide for 1 hour.
2.) Remove the bag and place into an ice water bath for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the bag overnight.
3.) Open the bag and fill it with the apple cider vinegar. Remove the air and seal the bag. Submerge in the water bath with your device set for 150°F and cook sous vide for 5 hours, agitating the bag periodically to ensure the ingredients are mixed well.
4.) Remove the bag and place into an ice water bath for 30 minutes. Open the bag and pour the contents through a wire mesh strainer into another container to remove most of the large pieces of fruit. You have the option to strain the remaining liquid through a coffee filter until it is clear, but that is not necessary. Add to a sealable small bottle and refrigerate. Use the shrub to create new and exciting cocktails including something simple like the Bourbon Stone Fruit Sour, below.
Standard Plum Shrub Recipe
1.) Wash and prepare your plums. In an appropriate sized bowl, pour in your plums and cover the fruit with sugar. Stir to combine.
2.) Cover your bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
3.) Take out your bowl and you should see a pool of liquid/syrup surrounding the fruit. Strain the juice away from the fruit into a measuring bowl. Apply pressure to the pieces of fruit to squeeze out any excess liquid.
4.) Confirm the level of your juice on the measuring bowl and add an equal amount of apple cider vinegar.
5.) Add your new shrub to a sealable bottle and let rest in the refrigerator. Use the shrub to create new and exciting cocktails including something simple like the Bourbon Stone Fruit Sour, below.
Cocktail Idea – Bourbon Stone Fruit Sour
- Add 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of plum shrub, 0.5 ounce of ginger and grapefruit simple syrup, and three dashes of Angostura bitters to a cocktail shaker with some ice
- Shake for 30-45 seconds and strain over ice or a large ice cube in a rocks glass, filling it to about three-quarters of the way full
- Top with club soda
- Express the oil from a grapefruit peel onto the rim of the glass and place the peel into the cocktail
To make ginger and grapefruit simple syrup:
1.) Combine equal weights or, if you don’t have a scale, equal portions of sugar and water in a small pot. 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar will work fine.
2.) Add the skin (white pith removed) and juice of one grapefruit and 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger.
3.) Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 30-45 minutes.
4.) Remove the liquid from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, strain out the fruit and ginger pulp using a wire mesh strainer. Place the liquid in a sealable container or jar and place it in the refrigerator. Refrigerated, it will keep for 2 weeks and then it should be discarded.