Summertime and Shrubs
Its the official kick-off of summer this weekend and with that comes the search for refreshing drinks, lighter salads and other warm weather delights.
For me, finding something cool and bubbly used to present a challenge as I won’t drink soda. That is until I discovered drinking shrubs, which are also known as sipping vinegars.
As a quick change of pace from straight up water, I’ll pour a glass of plain seltzer and then add a flavored shrub. The amount depends on your personal taste, but I add about 1-2oz to a regular sized drinking glass. It’s also a nice add to plain iced tea as it gives it that fancy, fruit flavored ice tea taste. And no, it’s not tart and pucker inducing like straight up vinegar. The sweet from the fruit mellows that out a bit.
If you’d like something a little stronger, shrubs make great drink mixers. My favorite, light summer drink is what I’ll call an Elderflower Spritzer. Combine 8oz of seltzer, a shot or two of elderflower liqueur and a splash of your favorite fruit shrub over ice for a quick and easy sipper. My favorite for this recipe is the Brambleberry Shrub from Bug Hill Farm, but is also works nice with any berry based shrub.
There are a couple other ways in which you can use these shrubs. Use in place of vinegar in any salad dressing recipe. This is particularly nice with a basic vinaigrette recipe, and a salad that has strawberries, grapes or apples included in the mix. Another great way to use a fruit based shrub is when cooking up salmon. In a cast iron pan, melt your butter for sautéing, drop in the salmon and while the salmon is grilling up nicely splash a couple tablespoons of the shrub in there for nice flavor. Do the same on the other side after you flip it.
Vinegar has long been revered as a health tonic. There are many claims out there, including those from my 93 year old great grandmother who swore by having a shot daily, but most are anecdotal. There are however, some documented benefits such as its ability to increase calcium absorption, provide help controlling blood sugar levels and the ability to add flavor with very few calories.
Now, top that salad with the pan-grilled salmon and fix yourself an Elderflower Spritzer. Then make your way to your deck or patio and enjoy an amazing light summer meal.