I don't think I have really given my rhubarb patch the full appreciation it deserves. Rhubarb was one of those infamous foods that, as children, we only ever ate on a dare, or as an excuse to dip something into sugar. So tart it's sour, its not the type of thing you eat for fun.
Or do you? Hmmm?
This spring, I found myself into a rhubarb groove. Rhubarb juice, rhubarb lemonade, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb muffins, oh, my. It was only natural that a rhubarb shrub would follow.
A shrub is basically an oxymel, which is a blend of honey, vinegar, and herbs. What makes an oxymel and a shrub different is the addition of fruit. Shrubs are popular additions to cocktails and add a great tart-sweet flavour. I like using a splash of shrub in water as my pre-breakfast drink.
Making your own is easy! Below is everything you need to know....but first, the ingredients.
Rhubarb Berry Shrub
1/2 cup of rhubarb, chopped
1/3 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 cinnamon stick
2 sprigs basil
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 tbsp peppermint (dried or fresh)
2/3 cup honey
apple cider vinegar to fill
Place all the fruit and herbs into a clean, sterile quart jar. Add the honey, being sure to appreciate how pretty raw, local honey looks flowing onto the fruit. That will do nothing for improving the flavour, but it just might improve your day.
Next, add in the apple cider vinegar. Fill it right to the top. Using a clean spoon, stir the mixture to make sure all the spaces are filled and all air floats to the top. The fruit and herbs must be fully covered with the vinegar. Add more as needed.
That's a good looking shrub. Very nice. If you hold it up to the window, it's like jewels glittering in the sunlight.
Next, cap the jar. Be sure to put a barrier between the metal lid and the shrub. A piece of parchment paper or plastic film will work fine. The vinegar must not touch the metal as it will corrode.
Lastly, label the jar. I prefer to put the whole recipe on the label. That way, I can always tweak it if I feel the next batch needs more basil, or less pepper, or whatever the case may be. Be sure to include the date, too.
Place it in a dark cupboard for 1-2 weeks, shaking daily. After one week, taste it daily to see when it is your desired strength. When you like it, it's ready! Strain it and keep it in the fridge in a glass, airtight container.
You can use it as a flavouring in cocktails, mixed with sparkling water, or even straight if you like a good strong shot of somethin' somethin'.
Clinical herbalist. Mother. Teacher. Ever student.