Cherry Balsamic Shrub

Summer is finally here in the Pacific Northwest. As usual, it went from black leather jacket weather to a heatwave in the space of a day or two. 

We get so few stretches of dry, warm weather that everyone takes full advantage of a sunny day. And since we aren't used to hot summers, we also switch from complaining about the rain to complaining about the heat. With no air conditioning, I manage it with a strategic opening and closing of blinds and windows plus a few fans.

A few nights spent sleeping in the basement help too. 

And making a batch of cherry balsamic shrub to drink. 

I first tasted a shrub at one of my fave Seattle restaurants, Serious Pie. Since Seattle is only two hours south of Vancouver, I often make the trek to see friends, hear some great live jazz and eat some yummy food.  And no trip is made without stopping in at Serious Pie (yukon gold, potato, pecorino and rosemary pizza - enough said).

A shrub is an 18th century way of preserving fresh fruit using sugar and vinegar. Remember, this was LONG before refrigerators. Pre American and French Revolutions.

It's an old recipe.

The sweetness and the vinegary tang make a refreshing syrup to mix with soda water (seltzer for my American friends). Add some gin or vodka if you want to kick it up a notch. 

You can use any fruit but I chose cherries because, well, I love cherries. I LIVE for cherry season. You don't wanna know how much I'm willing to pay for a bag of perfect Bing cherries.

Cherry Balsamic Shrub (adapted from Reclaiming Provincial)

(Print recipe here)

  • 2 cups of cherries, halved and pitted (thaw some frozen ones if needed)
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 10 black peppercorns (I know - surprise!)
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of cider vinegar (I had sherry vinegar so use that instead)

Combine fruit, peppercorns, and sugar in a glass bowl or jar, stirring to evenly-coat the fruit. Allow the mixture to sit for about 1 hour, then mash it until the cherries are broken up. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let sit for 24 hours (I left it on the counter - there is some fermentation that happens).

After 24 hours, mash up the mixture again, crushing the cherries as much as possible. Add the vinegars and stir well. Store at room temperature for 7–9 days, giving it a good stir each day. When finished, pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, then transfer to a clean jar or container. Store syrup in the fridge.

Add 1 part syrup to 2.5–3 parts soda water (seltzer). It has an intense flavour so taste and add more soda water accordingly.

The girl loves it as does the man. Me too. So will you.