A Shrub to drink (inspired by What Katy Did)

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Photo by the Bojon Gourmet

As a young girl I read and re-read Susan Coolidge’s ‘What Katy Did’ series of books and was intrigued by the bottle of shrub they took to drink on one of their picnics at the very start of the book. Although Cece later admitted that the ‘Shrub’ was little more than vinegar and water, I was determined to both try it and enjoy it <shudder> and took a glass of what we had, Sarsons, mixed with tap water down to the orchard at the bottom of my grandparents garden and tentatively forced myself to drink it. Illusions firmly shattered and deciding that American vinegar was clearly superior to ours (or they had the stomach and constitution of goats) I shelved any ideas about this becoming my new go to summer refreshment.

Until the latest post from the Bojon Gourmet landed in my in box that is. One of my favourite food writing bloggers from San Francisco, her Shrub recipe that follows has about as much in common with my (and Cece’s) version as the saintly and slightly sanctimonious Cousin Helen from the books had with Mae West. Cherries, maple syrup and Balsamic all add a mellifluous depth that cancels out any tendency to the tongue sucking raspiness that vinegar can evoke. Go on, try it.
Cherry Vanilla Maple Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}
Inspired by Carey’s Cherry Balsamic Shrub
Use grade A maple syrup here if you want a lighter flavor and brighter color (as pictured); grade B will have a deeper maple taste and the sodas will look a bit muddier, but they’ll still be super tasty. Give yourself 1-2 days to make this recipe as the mixture needs to infuse for at least 24 hours. To drink, mix 1 part shrub with about 4 parts soda water, top with ice, and add a splash of rye whiskey or bourbon if you like.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2 cups (10 ounces / 280 grams) stemmed sweet cherries
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup (5.25 ounces / 150 grams) maple syrup
1/2 cup (8 ounces / 240 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Place the cherries in a large jar or bowl with the vanilla and maple syrup. Use a muddle stick (or other blunt object) to mash the cherries to a pulp then stir in the vinegars. Cover and let the shrub sit for 24 to 48 hours. Strain the shrub, pressing on the solids to extract all the lovely stuff you want to keep. Discard the pulp.
Store the shrub in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least 1 month.
Photo by Bojon Gourmet