Sweet Cherry Balsamic Shrub Syrup

by Handjobs For The Home on July 28, 2011

When we think preserving, we automatically think jams and pickles. I know I do. But preserving is much more than just canned goods. Beyond fruit jams and pickle preserving there is also dehydrating, fermenting, infusing, and the list goes on. It helps if you think of preserving as a process in which you extend the life of an otherwise short-lived piece of produce. I mean, that’s what we’re doing when we hot water bath can, right?

With that in mind, I’m going to take you on a journey into shrub land. It’s a journey I have never been on before, but have always wanted to try. The concept, like many preserving skills, is super old school and totally awesome. Plus it’s, like, super hot right now.

What is a shrub? It’s quite simple, really. A basic shrub contains just three ingredients: sugar, fruit juice, and vinegar. All ingredients are used in a 1:1:1 ratio—1 C. sugar, 1 C. fruit, 1 C. vinegar. Together, they create this unique flavor that’s both tart and sweet and can be used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. A fabulously simple non-alcoholic concoction is easy. Just use a few spoonfuls of shrub syrup topped off with some sparkling water and you’ve got yourself a refreshing cooler.

The downside to making shrub syrups? Patience. Similar to liquor infusions, shrub syrup takes some time, but the patience will pay off… I hope. Like I said, this is my first shrub syrup so we’re on this journey together. But from other shrubs I’ve tasted, it should be well worth the wait.

As always, I tried to think seasonally, so I decided to use some sweet cherries. Plus they were on sale and totally gorgeous, which made the decision even easier.

I began by pitting and halving the cherries, and placing them in a large bowl. (Side note: save your cherry pits! I’ve got a project coming up and we’ll use them. Just pop them in a zip lock bag and put them in the freezer.) I then added one cup of sugar, covered it with plastic wrap, and placed it in the fridge to macerate for three days. Each day I checked on it, and gave it a little swirl to make sure the sugar was being evenly dispersed.

After day three, you will be left with a lovely bunch of fruit juice. Strain the fruit juice into a bowl and make sure you get all the sugar in there as well. You might find that the sugar doesn’t go through your strainer, but you definitely want it in your juice so make sure to spoon it all out. We’re done with the cherries as far as the shrub syrup goes, but if you want to save them for yogurt or ice cream go for it.

Place your fruit juice into a container (I used a ball jar of course) and add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 4 peppercorns. Put a lid on tightly, and give the mixture a good shake. Then place the jar in the refrigerator and wait. Don’t be alarmed if you see sugar at the bottom of your jar in a few days, the vinegar will eat it up and dissolve into the mixture.

I’ll be checking in on the shrub syrup in 2 weeks for a quick taste test and to see where we’re at. Join in on the journey!

Sweet Cherry Peppercorn Shrub Syrup:

What You’ll Need:

1 C. sugar
1 C. pitted and halved cherries
1 C. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp whole peppercorns
pinch of ground cinnamon

Place cherries and sugar in a covered bowl and let macerate for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Strain fruit juice from cherries and place in a mason jar with peppercorns and vinegar. Seal and shake. Place back in the fridge and let sit for 2 weeks.

Want to see what happened after 2 weeks of waiting? Check it out here.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie July 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

Wow, this looks interesting! Ball jar, eh?

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knitplaywithfire July 28, 2011 at 2:08 am

Wish I had some sweet cherries, Wonder how peach shrub would be? And I have a use for your sugar soaked cherries – make some jam with them.

I used the Peach Oolong recipe from Food In Jars and saved my peaches, nectarines, and blackberries. Today, my friends and I combined them all together and cooked them down a bit for jam. No added sugar or pectin. The flavors came through with the undercurrents of the tea I had used for the infusion. We think it was the best jam out of our batch. And we even have approval on it from a two year old!

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knitplaywithfire August 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Any updates on the shrub mixture yet?

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Sean August 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I’ve been making balamic macerated cherries pretty much the same way. The only difference is that you pit the cherries, pack them into the ball jar. Warm the vinegar and sugar mixture then pour over the cherries. Let them set in the fridge for a week or two and voila. Fantastic pickled cherries that go great with a cheese plate. Plus, if you plan on using the full jar, reduce the shrub and use it with the cheese or a dipping sauce. Good eatin

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Handjobs for the Home August 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I love this idea, thanks Sean!

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