Canning Mastery Challenge – a drink for scofflaws and anarchists

his month, The Food Mastery Challenge was to make either jelly or a shrub. I thought about making jelly but decided against it because:

  • I have tons of jelly in my pantry
  • I make jelly all the time so it wouldn’t be much of a challenge
  • If I was going to make jelly, I would want to use something unique, and home grown like dandelion jelly but currently my property is covered with this white stuff:

The idea if a drinking vinegar or a shrub was just too weird to pass up.

An article in The Huffington Post defines a shrub as:

…basically a choose-your-own-adventure, no-rules type of recipe, perfect for scofflaws and anarchists.

Who can pass up a recipe like that!

I used the recipe for a Blueberry Ginger Shrub from The Food in Jars website as I had all the ingredients on hand.

Not a lot is needed for this recipe.

Ingredients:

A shrub is based on a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Additional seasoning can be added to enhance the flavor of the fruit.

  • 1 cup blueberries, I used frozen berries from the depth of my freezer. Fresh is, of course, preferred.
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar – I used the cheap stuff that I had on hand. Using an unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the mother, like the one made by Braggs, would improve the health benefits of this drink.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 inch piece of ginger grated

Method:

This has to be one of the easiest ways there is to preserve fruit.

In a 1 liter jar crush blueberries, add sugar and vinegar.

Grate in ginger.

Steep in the fridge for several days.

Strain.

and store in the fridge for 6 months or so.  Add 1/3 cup of shrub syrup to 2/3 cup of water. Sparkling water is nice.

This certainly looks like a drink for a scofflaw.

The results:

I added 1/3 cup of shrub to 2/3 cup of sparking water (on sale at my store today – how convenient!). I have to admit I was skeptical. I caught a whiff of vinegar as soon as I put the glass to my lips. “That’s interesting,” I thought after my first sip. I continued sipping and my liking for this drink grew. I found that it was very refreshing and quenched my thirst.

The Man was not a fan. He took one whiff, said, “that’s disgusting,” and declined further involvement in my experiment.

I think this is one of those you either love it or you hate it drinks.

The Costs:

I have never seen a shrub for sale in a Canadian supermarket, and I know for sure that our little backwoods market does not sell them. Consequently, I cannot calculate how much money I would save by making my own shrubs instead of buying them.

Ingredient Cost (March 2017)
Blueberries: The price for this ingredient can range drastically from free to $9.00 for 600 grams of frozen berries. Mine were frozen after I picked them at a local u-pick place at $3.00 a pound.  $0.75
Apple Cider Vinegar: $5.78 per liter at my little grocery store  $1.46
Sugar: on sale this month for $4.99 for a 4kg (10 pound) bag  $0.25
2 inch piece of grated ginger $0.25

Total for 400ml

 $2.71

Total per serving

 $0.51

Will I do it again?

Definitely. The Man was not a fan but I did like it. I think that this drink has so much potential. I can’t wait to try out combinations using locally foraged fruits and berries.

Maybe something with thimble berries? Saskatoons? Huckleberries? The possibilities are endless.

And yes, you know this had to happen:

Go ahead – try a drinking vinegar. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Canning Mastery Challenge – Making Soup Base

The cold and wet weather of February cries out for a hot bowl of soup. This is how I made a soup base for this month’s canning mastery challenge.

Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? … Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?

Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

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