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Friday, August 12, 2016

Shrubs, A Healthy, Energizing, Fruit Vinegar Drink





The benefits of drinking unpasteurized, raw vinegar has long been documented and utilized for improved health and beauty. Combining raw honey and raw vinegar are described as the "elixir of youth" and is even believed to fight cancer by helping to maintain an alkaline body pH.

But if you have trouble acquiring a taste for the honey and vinegar blend in a daily glass of water, then perhaps making shrubs is the next best alternative. Now this recipe uses sugar rather than honey but the use of honey could easily be substituted to see how it turns out. I do make my elderberry syrup with honey so I don't see why it couldn't be used in place of the white sugar.

The word "shrub" comes from the Arabic sharbah which means "a drink". Drinking vinegar isn't as common today as in the past, but using vinegar has a history going back to the Babylonians and Romans. Without preservatives, wine turned to vinegar and never went to waste. it was also added to water to make it safer to drink. The acetic acid in vinegar acts as a preserving agent so recipes were recorded on how to enjoy seasonal fruits year round. High in antioxidants, shrubs were an excellent way to get enough vitamin C during the winter months and to help ward off illness. Colonial period sailors made sure to carry shrubs on their boats to help prevent scurvy.

The most common way to make shrubs is to create a fruit-flavored vinegar and sweeten it with sugar. The resulting syrup is then added to water when needed for a very refreshing, energy boosting drink. People laboring long hours in the fields during the heat of the summer were extremely grateful for the energy boost of such refreshment.

Be sure to use raw, unpasteurized vinegar that still contains the "mother". The Mother of Vinegar occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. Though commercial vinegar contains the 5% acidity, the powerful enzymes and minerals are destroyed during the distilling process. Public demand for clear, pretty vinegar is the reason raw vinegar is rarely seen on store shelves. For the health benefits of minerals, pectin for fiber, and amino acids, be sure to use raw vinegar.

If you have access to seasonal fresh fruit, use whatever you have. If you don't or during the off season for fresh fruit, you can find frozen berries in the grocery store. I used Costco's Kirkland brand since they sell in money saving larger size bags. The berry blend here uses rasperries, blueberries and blackberries but you can use strawberries, cherries, cherries, peaches, elderberries, etc.

TO MAKE SHRUB

Place 2 cups of berries in a pot.

Pour 1 cup raw Apple Cider Vinegar over the berries.

Heat the berries on low heat and add 1 1/2 cup sugar.

Stir to blend and dissolve the sugar.

Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

Mash the mixture to crush the berries and put through a strainer to remove any pulp.

Pour the concentrate into a jar and store in the refrigerator. Try to use within six months.

To use:
Add ice cubes to a glass along with 2 - 4 tbsp of syrup (depends on how you like it).
Top with cold water and drink up!