A New (Old) Way with Summer's Bounty

Jul 25, 2017

Summer is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruit!

Credit Kathy Hester, www.healthyslowcooking.com

I asked my friend and talented cookbook author Nancie McDermott to talk to us about summer fruit and a unique way to use the best of the season. Since her latest book is titled Fruit: A Savor the South Cookbook, I knew she would inspire us.  

“The best way to enjoy the fruits of the southern summer is to just get out there and eat them! Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and nectarines, watermelon and cantaloupe. Just get them and go!”

I agree with that statement!  But how can we cook with fruits, beyond cobblers, pies, and jams?

“The second best thing to do with summer fruits is to turn them into shrubs.

I don’t mean landscaping plants; I mean an old school beverage that used to be a standard. Shrubs are made from fresh fruit, vinegar, and sugar, and they are simple to make, beautiful to behold, and delicious.”

Know that sounds interesting!  How do we make a shrub?

“Easiest and best are berry-based shrubs. Fill a heatproof jar with berries,  

cover them with hot apple cider vinegar, Let stand for a day or two.Strain and discard the fruit. Cook the berry-infused liquid with sugar, and then let it cool.’

How do we use this concoction?

“Enjoy your shrub with club soda; mineral water, lemonade, or spirits.

It’s cocktail heaven; and it makes a perfect party favor in a little jar.”

What a cool idea!

“Making jams and jellies from fruit takes time and makes a mess; but shrubs? You can do this in the time it takes the lightning bugs to come out.”

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

For more information about Nancie McDermott and her fabulous cookbooks, visit www.nanciemcdermott.com.

Nancie’s Strawberry Shrub

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups trimmed and quartered strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups sugar

Prepare a large glass jar, sterilizing it. In a medium saucepan, heat the vinegar until it is steaming hot, just about to break into a bubbling boil. Remove from heat. Place the strawberries in the jar, and pour the vinegar over them, making sure they are covered by an inch of vinegar. Let cool to room temperature, and then cover tightly. Set aside for 24 to 48 hours, making sure the jar is not exposed to heat or light.

Strain the vinegar into a medium saucepan, leaving the berries behind in the strainer. Discard the berries, and add the sugar to the vinegar in the saucepan. Bring to rolling boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the shrub cool to room temperature. Pour the shrub into a clean, sterilized jar and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Makes about 3 cups.

Recipe printed with permission from Fruit: A Savor the South Cookbook by Nancie McDermott.