I have been preserving as much citrus as I can before the rough skinned fruit yields to springtime herbs and summer berries. My preserved lemons and their tangy bite have been chopped up and put in every rice dish in the last month. Thus lemon is on my mind as the season turns over. Refreshingly springtime, this kiwi & lemon balm shrub tingles on the tongue and makes me bubble with happiness. While I am quite sure that the true roots of the drink remain elsewhere, (such as the sharbat of Persian origin for starters); this American rendition has its roots in colonial times.
Infusing vinegar with fruit was one way to preserve an abundance of fruit without refrigeration. You can take a trip down to Colonial Williamsburg and sip on a shrub at an old tavern while whittling the time away OR you can kick it on your porch with this simple & inexpensive treat.
This recipe for kiwi & lemon balm shrub is quite simple. All you need is smashed fruit, sugar and vinegar. The options are yours within these parameters.
In this case, with the kiwi, there is not a dire need to find organic since you will be peeling the fruit. Theoretically, organic is always preferable but practically, if the skin is taken off we are safe.
What are the proportions, you might ask? It is quite simple, 1:1:1 [Fruit:Sugar:Vinegar]. This is the classic proportion. Lessening the sugar a bit helps retain a strongly flavored, nicely sweetened syrup that still retains the depth of the character of the kiwi if the fruit is really ripe. If you add an herb, go light at first so it does not overwhelm the fruit. I used 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon balm for both the bright flavor and the calming properties.
You may also ask, what kind of vinegar or sugar for this particular shrub? For this drink, do not use the kind of vinegar you would clean your windows with. Obtain some raw apple cider vinegar. It tastes more robust & clean and many say has a multitude of health benefits. I used my standby organic cane sugar for this kiwi & lemon balm shrub syrup.
How is the syrup used? I like to mix the kiwi & lemon balm shrub syrup with sparkling or seltzer water for a nice, calming sweet and sour drink on a hot day. I imagine it could work well as sour mix in a whiskey sour or with gin and seltzer as well. If you decide to try it out another way, please share below to brainstorm ideas.
Enjoy, knowing you are drinking a piece of Colonial America as well as Persia. This is a true international drink!
- 2 cups of kiwi
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups of organic cane sugar
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Lemon Balm
- Cut each kiwi in half. Using a spoon, gently scoop the inside out, running the spoon between the fruit between the fruit and the skin.
- Scoop the fruit into a bowl. Add the sugar and lightly mix. Cover and let sit in the fridge for about 3 days.
- When you have a bowl of fruit swimming in luscious fruity syrup, it is ready. Place the fruit in a strainer over a bowl. Gently press fruit and stir it around until all liquid has been extracted. At this point you may reserve the fruit to use on yogurt or toast. It will be tasty for a few days. It is like free jam!
- Using a funnel, pour syrup into a jar. Pour in the apple cider vinegar. Shake. Shake. Shake. Shake that jar.
- When the liquids are combined, place it in the fridge. Theoretically, you could keep this on the counter. Since I have refrigeration, I will use it to keep the syrup even longer. Let the mixture infuse for at least 10 days before using.
- Use your taste buds to define how much you will use. This particular syrup serves me well at a 1:3 ratio of syrup:sparkling water.
This is a great resource to help you get started understanding why a person would drink vinegar or how to get started (or creative) with shrubs: