So last weekend I dug around the storage freezer in our barn looking for what I could use to make myself a healthier, non-alcoholic alternative to wine. When I saw the bags of frozen autumn raspberries, I knew what I was going to make. (By the way, we live for autumn raspberries here – they come out in abundance in the middle of October just when everything else is dying and then stick around until the beginning of December. So plentiful are these bushes that we end up freezing a dozen bags of their fruit for a day like this when I am craving something sweet.) I realised that I could make shrub! What on earth is shrub, you ask? I didn’t know either. But my friend at Freeman’s explained to me last summer that it is a fruit and vinegar syrup that when mixed with sparkling water makes a fantastic booze-free drink. It was indeed the most delicious thing I’d had in a long time, whether made with strawberries, raspberries or even kiwi – the taste of fruit was so real and fresh and the vinegar gave it an almost wine-like flavour, kind of like how kombucha does.
When I came back to England and tried the Freeman’s recipe, I found it a little more vinegar-y than I had remembered so I have adapted it slightly to suit my own taste. And you may think it’s odd that I like to drink something so summer-y in the late February but I sometimes OD on a fruit when it’s in season and don’t appreciate it as much as I should. A nice big freezer makes it possible to revisit some of these flavours in the dark days of winter when we most need to be reminded of the warmer and sunnier months.
RASPBERRY SHRUB (couldn’t be easier):
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
¾ cup red or white wine vinegar
Stir the raspberries and sugar together in a bowl. Cover with saran wrap. Leave overnight in the fridge.
Remove the mixture and pour it into a strainer. Use a spoon to push the liquid through the strainer in order to remove the raspberry seeds.
Put the raspberry/sugar mixture in a sauce pan and add the vinegar. Heat on low and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture in a glass jar and shake it. Store it in the fridge.
To make a drink, add 1-3 tsps (depending on your taste) of shrub to a medium glass of sparkling water and squeeze a quarter of lime into it. Enjoy!