Rose Strawberry Shrub a.k.a. Drinking Vinegar – refreshing + fizzy, almost soda like. Non-alcoholic. Made with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Even something as mundane as grocery shopping can be turned meditative or immensely adventurous, if you set your mind to it. Most days, it’s a time of reflection for me, as I just mechanically check things off my grocery list, but lately, my husband and I have made it our purpose to make it more intriguing. Every week, as we walk through the aisles scanning for things we need, want and other things that are more of a pointless indulgence than anything else, we’ve begun a new ritual to pick one new thing – something healthy we’ve never tried before.
It was during this ritualistic culling that we picked up a few bottles of drinking vinegar – My berry loving husband chose one infused with strawberry, I chose lemon and ginger as they’re one of my favorite lemonade flavors, and we both picked peach, because well, it was peach!
A few years ago, I did try drinking apple cider vinegar – reluctantly and with as much disgust as you can imagine one to feel. A large cup of warm water, mixed with apple cider vinegar and honey, drunk in one breathless go first thing in the morning, as fast as I could, just to get it over with. Ruined my morning coffee for several weeks until I gave up and stashed the bottle of vinegar as far back as it can go into the topmost kitchen cupboard – out of sight and out of mind, as it were.
If you thought that these three bottles of drinking vinegar I purchased would change the impression left behind after that sordid first attempt, you are terribly mistaken. We opened the strawberry first, and one sip was enough for me to know that the vinegar to fruit ratio was too high, and the acid overpowered any trace of berry in the drink. I might as well have been drinking the vinegar straight up raw! The other two flavors went down much, much easier – not that I should know anything about it. After that first sip, I gave up, but my sweet and saintly husband powered through the others, steadfastly and with purpose. He hates waste. He never gives up, even on the most terrible foods.
If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that tolerance is never the path to sustenance. If you’re biting your teeth through doing something, you’re going to give up on it first chance you get. And I earnestly wanted to find a way to keep apple cider vinegar in my life. From balancing your body’s pH, controlling blood sugar, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure, increasing immunity and helping in weight loss, apple cider vinegar is so incredibly good for you!
What is a Shrub?
And that is how I found Shrubs! You can trace the origins of this drink back to the Persian Empire, but this non-alcoholic version was more popular during the 17th century. Used to preserve fruits (particularly berries) during the off-season, the fruit was doused in vinegar and stored in barrels for several days at a time. When the time came to serving, the fruit was strained, but the leftover syrup was later mixed with sugar or honey, then diluted with water or soda to make a refreshing drink!
This Rose Strawberry Shrub is like that, except I’ve blended the berries for a more heartier and fruitier non-alcoholic drink. There is more fruit per sip, and the vinegar is more of an undertone, the usual heady acidic fragrance blanketed by the strawberry and rose essence.
This drink takes several days to make, but you can make it much faster by cooking the berries in sugar until soft and syrupy, then blending, straining the seeds and mixing with vinegar. But there’s something to be said for the elegance of the longer method. The sugar slowly breaks down the fruit naturally, and once combined with the fruit syrup, the acid in the vinegar reacts and mellows out considerably, leaving behind just a light fizz, much like a soda that’s been left sitting out for sometime. And don’t forget the Rose water – I use Nielsen Massey Rose water, and it helps mask the smell of vinegar quite beautifully!
Now this Rose Strawberry Shrub, I can see myself sipping endlessly to oblivion – it’s not too sweet, and with time, I can even see myself cutting down the sugar by half, but until then, it will keep me drinking apple cider vinegar with some regularity, and with definite pleasure.
You can substitute some of the sugar with honey or any other sweetener you prefer, but don’t eliminate the sugar wholly. You need it to break down the fruit and soften the vinegar and keep the syrup from going bad with storage.