Recipe: How To Make Your Own Drinking Vinegars

You've heard it hear first: drinking vinegars (or shrubs as they're otherwise known) are going to be the next kombucha. Or at least they're going to be another awesome drink alongside kombucha, because we 100% don't want the booch love going anywhere. But first things first, what on earth is a drinking vinegar? Put quite simply, it's a mix of fruit, sugar and apple cider vinegar that you can then mix with everything from soda water or tonic water to gin, prosecco or whisky. Whilst they're higher in sugar than kombucha as there's no scoby to feed off the sugar, they're still a great gut-loving drink thanks to the huge amount of apple cider vinegar present - and they're definitely much more palatable than downing a shot of it in the morning or trying to force your way through a glass of warm water, lemon and ACV.... 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SHRUBS

There are endless ways to make drinking vinegar dependent on how much time you have and your preferred way of infusing fruit. We've made three different flavours, three different ways so we'll talk you through all of these, as well as a final way if you have a little more time on your hands. 

METHOD 1: COLD INFUSION

Time needed: 2-3 days
Equipment needed: a bowl, an airtight glass container + a mesh cloth (such as these here) or sieve

Ingredients:
1lb of fruit
1 cup of sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Method: 
1. Take your fruit of choice and slice, peel and mush it up until it's broken down a little - the riper the fruit, the better.  
2. Add the sugar to the fruit and leave it in a covered container (not airtight) for 2-3 days
3. It'll produce more liquid over this time. Drain the liquid into a glass jar using a mesh cloth (the discarded fruit makes a great porridge topper) then add the apple cider vinegar to the liquid
4. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. 

Notes: the amount of each ingredient is just a rough guide - we recommend sticking to these quantities the first time, then adjusting dependent on your preferences - more/less/alternative sugar, more/less vinegar etc. 

  

METHOD 2: HOT INFUSION

Time needed: 3 hours
Equipment needed: a pan, an airtight glass container and a mesh cloth (such as these here) or a sieve

Ingredients:
1lb of fruit
1 cup of sugar
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Method: 
1. Add the sugar and water to a pan over a medium heat. Stir continuously until they're fully combined then turn the heat down to low to let the excess water boil off. After about 5 minutes, add the fruit and continue to heat over a low heat for a further 10 minutes, or until the liquid has taken on the colour of the fruit and the fruit has been stewed. 
2. Wait for the mixture to cool then strain the liquid from the fruit (keep the fruit for porridge purposes!). Add it to the glass container then add in the apple cider vinegar and shake slightly to combine. 
3. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. 

Notes: we find it harder to decrease the sugar content when using this method as it won't create the 'syrup' consistency. It's also harder to switch out sugar for honey or maple as it doesn't combine the same way. If you want your shrub ASAP, then it's a great, quick method though! 

METHOD 3: SAME BUT DIFFERENT...

Not necessarily a separate method, but the method above can also be broken down into steps. We always keep a jar of infused sugar syrup in the fridge for cocktail related purposes (highly recommend) so once we have this, it's also super quick to turn it into a shrub by just mixing a little with vinegar. This is how we made our pomegranate shrub!    

METHOD 4: ALL IN ONE  

Time needed: 5 - 7 days
Equipment needed: an airtight glass container and a mesh cloth (such as these here) or a sieve

Ingredients:
1lb of fruit
1 cup of sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Method: 
1. Take your fruit of choice and slice, peel and mush it up until it's broken down a little - the riper the fruit, the better. 
2. Add both the sugar and the apple cider vinegar to the fruit and leave it in a covered container (not airtight) for 2-3 days - we tend to use a large glass jar for this
3. After 5-7 days (longer if you want a stronger fruit flavour, less time if you're impatient like us) strain the fruit from the mixture (it's very tart from the vinegar but it makes a great snack if you're a lover of ferments and tart flavours!)
4. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. 

Notes: This one is probably the easiest for getting a super low sugar content from as you don't have to worry about anything boiling down or not producing liquid. We've gone as low as 1/4 cup honey on this one before and it was very strong on the ACV front but we're sort of into that! 


FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS

We could probably go on endlessly here (nothing gets us going as much as flavour combos...), but we'll instead keep it to the basics. 

FRUIT/HERBS

We've tried a lot of different fruit over the past year or so, and we find stone fruit and citrus always work the best. We also love entirely root based flavours such as ginger and turmeric too, and don't forget the magic of herbs when it comes to infusing! Another interesting flavour we tried was earl grey infused syrup - it needs to be infused for a long time to overtake the ACV flavour, but it's still pretty great. Just to get you started, here are the flavour combinations pictured above: 

- Rhubarb and basil with apple cider vinegar
- Pomegranate and mint with apple cider vinegar and a splash of balsamic
- Blood orange, grapefruit and rosemary with apple cider vinegar

VINEGARS

Our go-to is always apple cider vinegar because it comes with so many health benefits (just make sure you use unpasteurised ACV with the mother!), but it's also fun to add other elements such as balsamic vinegar or even champagne vinegar. 

SUGAR 

Public enemy no.1, but also an essential element of drinking vinegars unless you just really love the taste of vinegar - it helps to bring out the fruity flavours and reduce the tartness. We once tried going sugar free just to see what happened and the only way to make it enjoyable was to mix it with tonic water or a similar sugary drink, so we'd rather just control the sugar that we put into it ourselves, and leave the mixer as something sugar free. For both the rhubarb and citrus flavours pictured, we used raw honey as our sugar and they were definitely our faves yet. They added enough sweetness, and also lended a lovely honey taste. If you're vegan, maple syrup works equally well. The pomegranate option was make with organic white sugar, but we actually much prefer the honey versions, so don't be afraid to 'replace' the sugar with your preference.  

PAIRINGS

For day to day drinking, sparkling water or soda water (we're yet to understand the difference between the two..) is our go-to, on a ratio of about 5:1 water:shrub. Come the weekend though, we're all about shrub-based cocktails. As you've already done all the hard work, making something quite 'fancy' is really easy now. It's the perfect addition to a G&T or bellini-style with prosecco, but it works equally well with a mixer (tonic or soda water generally) and pretty much any spirit from vodka to whiskey dependent on the flavours you've used. For example, summer lends itself favourably towards a strawberry and basil shrub paired with soda water and vodka, whereas in winter we'd veer towards an apple and cinnamon shrub paired with ginger ale and whiskey.  



 

 

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