Make the most of your seasonal strawberries with this delicious Vanilla Strawberry Shrub Syrup! Overripe strawberries, apple cider vinegar, sugar and vanilla are all you need for this bright, pick-me-up drinking vinegar recipe for a hot summer day!
Imagine you’re an overripe strawberry, sitting in your punnet in the grocery store, kept company by a few other slightly overripe strawberries. You watch as people pick you up, make a face, and then put you back down. Sure, you may not be as perky as the young’uns anymore, maybe a little soft around the belly, and your skin a little darker, but you still got the goods, baby. Oh yes, you do.
And rejection hurts.
But today, I’m here to tell you that you need not fear anymore! I’ve got just the recipe that’ll make those people seek you and your overripe brothers and sisters out. This recipe doesn’t care that you’re a little mushy, in fact this recipe thinks you’re even sweeter for it. So move over, all you young, perky, tart ones, this Vanilla Strawberry Shrub Syrup is here for the ones with experience.
Shrubs (or drinking vinegars) are my new obsession this summer! No, I don’t mean that bush in your garden. I’m talking Fruit Shrubs. Or specifically, Vanilla Strawberry Shrub Syrup in this case. Before I get to the recipe, let me ask you a quick question. When you buy food produce, do you ever go for the slightly bruised ones? The ones that are a little softer and darker, but are also more fragrant and flavorful. This vanilla strawberry shrub recipe is going to give those overripe strawberries a very happy ending!
So what’s a fruit shrub?
It’s a sweet, vinegary fruit syrup that’s going to light up all your senses when you drink it! It’s basically drinking vinegar. The vinegar gives it that acid component, and makes it an incredibly refreshing pick-me-up drink on a hot summer day. Fruit shrubs have a long and storied history, and their initial purpose was to preserve seasonal fruits long past their prime days. Now that summer and a bounty of fruits are upon us, this drinking vinegar recipe is all you’re going to need to make the best use of all those fruits!
The keys to a good fruit shrub are sweet, overripe fruits and a great vinegar base. However, not all fruits work as effectively as a shrub syrup. Berries and stone fruits like cherries, peaches, plums, apricots are my favorite. But I’ve also had success with other fruits with strong flavors like pineapple, kiwifruit, and even oranges.
So go ahead and try different combinations of fruit and vinegar and see what works best for you. I’ve got a few shrub recipes to share with you before the summer is out. But in the meantime, let’s talk about this vanilla strawberry shrub syrup – hands down, the best drink that you’re going to taste this summer! I’m not exaggerating 🙂 . My fridge is stocked up with fruit shrubs these days, and the first thing Mr K mentions as he walks in through the door every evening is “fruit shrub”. I’m starting to think he might love his vanilla strawberry shrub more than me.
Can’t blame him though. With this heat wave that’s rolling around, there’s nothing that’ll be as intensely flavorful and refreshing as a fruit shrub!
And like I said, since this drinking vinegar is made with sugar and vinegar (obviously), they have great staying power. It even gets better with time as the vinegar and the sweetness have had time to mingle. I’ve kept these fruit shrub syrups in sterilized air-tight jars for up to a month with no issues! But I prefer to keep them bottled in smaller jars, so that I can use them one at a time.
With this vanilla strawberry shrub syrup, I used strawberries that are overripe, look a little beat up, and not quite as pretty or shiny to photograph. I used empty vanilla pods to infuse these strawberries with vanilla flavor (another great way to use up something that could go to waste – alternatively, you could use fresh vanilla beans or extract as well). I thought about mixing the final syrup with balsamic vinegar (since that’s a classic flavor combo), but I wanted to keep that beautiful red color of the syrup, so I went with good quality apple cider vinegar in the end.
When you serve this drink to your guests at the next party, the first thing that’ll go through their minds is – wow, what in the world just hit me? And then the second thing is – I’d love to have some more of that!
The strawberry flavor in this drinking vinegar is so pronounced and fresh and sweet, but that one flavor profile that’s ever so prominent through out this drink is that of vinegar! The vinegar lends an almost effervescent quality to this vanilla strawberry shrub without ever overpowering the fresh Strawberry flavor.
We have enjoyed this fruit shrub in so many ways – just mixed with ice cold water, or chilled club soda, and even with some vodka and/or cava for an amazing cocktail (say hello to your new Mimosa obsession!). You could even use this beautiful fruit shrub syrup as a sweet salad dressing (neat- not diluted)!
However you drink this vanilla strawberry shrub, you’re going to absolutely love the flavors. So go ahead and take your summer sodas and cocktails to the next levels with this awesome drinking vinegar recipe!
Vanilla Strawberry Shrub Syrup
- 1.5 lbs overripe strawberries cut into chunks
- 1.25 cups of granulated white sugar
- 1 leftover vanilla pod
- 1.25 cups of good quality apple cider vinegar
- Place the strawberries in a large glass dish (with a lid). Cut the vanilla bean pod into pieces and add it to the strawberries. Alternatively, add about 1 tbsp good quality vanilla bean paste or extract.
- Sprinkle the sugar on top and mix it well with the strawberries.
- Seal with the lid and refrigerate for about 2 days - allowing the fruit juices to be drawn out by the sugar.
- Next, strain the fruit juices from the fruit chunks. There'll be undissolved sugar at the bottom of the dish (you will need this as well). To strain, transfer the fruit pieces on to a clean cheesecake cloth, and squeeze gently to release any extra juice stored in the fruits (do not squeeze out pulp). Add this juice back into the strawberry syrup in the dish and the settled sugar.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the strawberry syrup. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.
- Strain through a very fine sieve into a sterilized glass bottle.
- You could use it immediately, but the vinegar taste will be more pronounced then. Leave the shrub for a few days (about 3 days) to let the vinegar flavor slowly mellow down - it will continue to mellow down the longer you keep it, until it reaches a nice balance between sweet and sour (usually about 5 days). Give the bottle a shake everyday, to ensure the shrub is mixing well with the vinegar.
- Mix the syrup with ice cold water or soda water or alcohol in a 1:2 ratio for a refreshing drink. Adjust to your preference. Enjoy!
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