Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shrubbery!

Back when the blueberries first came in, I made a shrub syrup out of those first berries.

For the longest time it looked like the blueberries may or may not come in - they were wizening (yes, this is one of my favorite words. I also made it up. Look up "wizened") on the bush before ever ripening. It's like they went from unripe berry - to dried fruit. It was sad.

And then we got 2 inches and then 5 inches of rain (in 2 days. Yes. A LOT of water), and voila! Berries. Just in the nick of time.

I love pies, and jams and whatnot - but dude. I live in a tin can, and it's effing HOT outside. Turning on the oven, or slaving over a stove, is completely not on my list of things I want to be doing right now. And then a few of the blogs I subscribe to started mentioning 'shrub syrups'. Better yet - a cold processed and therefore a way to do it with NO time on the stove! I was in love.

In a nutshell, here's what I did:

Start with one cup of berries.

I used half of these.
 To the one cup of berries I added one cup of sugar, and a potato masher. Mash everything together, and then I let it all sit overnight in the fridge. In theory this allows the sugar to draw the juices out of the berries.

When I pulled it out the next day, not the biggest change. Nevertheless, I pushed forward and put the whole thing in a "cheesecloth lined strainer" (see here for appropriate rant on cheesecloth). Blueberries have really thick skins and these weren't the juiciest (see aforementioned rant on lack of rain and wizening...), so putting them through "cheesecloth" (read: flour sack towel of the cheapest variety) didn't do anything, really. I got a teensy amount of juice, but really not anything proportionate to the amount of berries I put in it.

This is after an hour. No joke.
 So I gave up on the "cheesecloth" and just mashed them through the strainer - even if this would leave me with seeds in my syrup.
Muuuuuuch better.
 At this point you're supposed to be able to add the apple cider vinegar to the strained syrup, mix, let meld, and then you're done. I wasn't OK with this. I wasn't exactly convinced all the goodness had been gotten from the berries - mostly due to the lack of "cheesecloth" squeezing that I normally would do in this situation.

So I poured the vinegar over the leftover berries in the strainer, and mashed it around a bit thus essentially giving the berry husks a second spoon-squeezing ordeal to go through.

Vinegar. That is a measuring cup, not a sauce pan. I can understand your confusion.

Strained + Vinegared - you can see the tiny seeds at the bottom. Ignore those.
  Then I dumped the whole thing in a jar. That was conveniently EXACTLY the right size -

Shrub syrup!
 And there you have it. The Stoneyhaw Blueberry Shrub Syrup. I tasted it before I put it into the fridge to "mellow" and my reaction was.....KAPOW! I got literally assaulted by blueberry, sweet, and vinegar. All distinctly, yet all together. It was intense.

Shrub with club soda.
So how was it after letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of weeks? Still intense. If not intenser. Everything had mellowed out and melded together - yet stood out more. Crazy. And so good! I'm currently addicted, and thinking about making more.


*just remember that apple cider vinegar can have a laxative effect - especially if you're sensitive to it, or if you drink a lot of it. It won't harm you, but it might not be pleasant if you drink too much. The good news? You'd have to drink a lot of the shrub syrup to get that effect. I'm just sayin'

5 comments:

George and Kerri said...

So what do you eat this on? Is this like a sweet and sour sauce? What's the finished consistency/viscosity?

George

igoslomo said...

Have I told you how much I love the word Stoneyhaw? it's cool... and your Stoneyhaw Blueberry Shrub Syrup looks delicious (although I thought it would be more blue... )... sounds fabulous mixed with soda but is it wrong to think about reducing your mixture a bit and pouring it over some porkshops (ala pork chop and apples)??

igoslomo said...

errrr porkchops.. not shops

caitlinvb said...

In my excitement, I neglected to mention what the hell a shrub syrup is. Forgive me, please. I will expand upon it in a future post. Promise.

I cannot take credit for the Stoneyhaw name - my greatgrandfather who first owned this property (he was one of the civil engineers that build the lake I'm on) referred to it as such. Alas he never got to live out here (and he went so far as to bulldoze a site, roads, and dig a well) as my great-grandmother wouldn't hear of it and refused to leave town and come out to the country (8 miles from their house...). It's because Stoney Creek, and the Haw river, feed the lake. Essentially.

caitlinvb said...

And no - it would be good on porkchops, but reducing it would probably be a bit too intense. That said - I LOVE blueberries on porkchops, and have been known to make a savory blueberry sauce for porkchops...