Sharing New Year’s Eve with many non-imbibers , I stocked up on a range of ‘sans’/zero drinks. As most of them were disappointing, I switched to homemade shrubs instead.
Shrubs are refreshing vinegar-based, tangy syrups to add to water or to flavour mock/cocktails.
The traditional method, typically uses equal parts fruit, sugar and vinegar. But I like a bit of pucker so tend to halve (or even quarter) the sugar. Regardless, the resulting liquid is drunk diluted, like a cordial but nowhere near as sweet.
1 part: ripe summer berries or your favourite fruit
½ part raw sugar
Wash your fruit and finely chop (or bend). Place in a jar and sprinkle with sugar. Cover the jar (eg some cloth held on with an elastic band or a lid that’s not screwed on) and leave on a bench out of the sun to macerate. This is when the juices come out of the fruit and combine with the sugar to make a light syrup. Give it a swish or a stir a couple of times a day. Depending on how warm it is, this will take a couple of days for liquid to form.
Next add 1 part vinegar (use unpasturised apple cider vinegar for added health benefits!)
When the mixture is getting nice and juicy, add your vinegar. Give it a stir. Taste it, remembering you’ll use it diluted not drunk straight! If the taste is too tart for you, then add a little more sugar. Not puckery enough? Add more vinegar. Cover and let it sit out for a day or two, stirring a few times daily.
Strain, using a fine sieve and pushing the mushy fruit through with the back of a spoon. Pour into a sterilized bottle (a hot wash in the dishwasher works well), screw on the lid and store in the fridge.
Use a little bit of the shrub (literally a dash or two to begin with) like a cordial and mix with sparking water.
Start simple and make a small batch. If you enjoy it, get adventurous, by adding spices or combine different fruits.
For something different try Zero-waste pineapple shrub (with lashings of ginger!)