Serious Eats: Recipes

Zero Proof: Plum Shrub Ginger Soda

[Photo: Christianne Winthrop]

Soon after my parents got married, they bought a plum tree. I'm not quite sure why, but I believe it had something to do with the new couple "planting roots" or being told to "be fruitful and multiply." Now, thirty-three years later, I have five siblings and that same tree drops forty to fifty pounds of fruit between July and September each year. The plums are great all by themselves or made into jams and tarts, but when you're facing 2 to 3 pounds of plums each day, you've got to get really creative. That's where a shrub syrup comes into play.

Shrub syrups were covered in a Cocktail 101 post earlier this summer, but if you missed it or are a little hesitant about drinking vinegar, we'll go over it again. First things first: what's a shrub? Well, it's not just a decorative plant. A shrub is a deliciously tart fruit syrup, usually made of sugar, fresh fruit, and vinegar. The syrup is then used to flavor beverages both alcoholic and non-, and is frequently topped up with something sparkling.

How do you make it? I highly recommend doing it the slow way, which is hands down the easiest. Chop fruit. Add vinegar. Refrigerate. Add sugar. Simmer. Chill.

Remember that it's still summertime, so chilling is the most important part.

About the author: Christianne Winthrop is a freelance food writer, caterer and culinary instructor. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Bob and their beta fish, Hercules.

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