DRINKING VINEGARS AND SHRUBS

I was very interested in the fruit drinking vinegars over the last few years. It seems natural and I often sip from cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar bottles for that funky acid taste.

 When I was young, my grandmother would tell me her sister in Germany would often drink vinegar. It always came up when I was making salad dressing and would just eat the dressing.

I remember old timers would drink Kraut juice. Sounded gross to me then, but the whole family of fermented drinks, fruits and vegetables now seems so obviously delicious as well as healthy.

I was in Portland for the 2011 Portland Cocktail Week and went to Pok Pok and tried some of their vinegars and chicken wings and I decided I had to make some. Chicken wings too.

BASIC RICE VINEGAR SYRUP

I feel like I have always been making rice vinegar syrup.

There are a few things I am never out of in my kitchen cabinet; Soy-Brown Sugar Syrup and Rice Vinegar White Cane Sugar Syrup. I use them so often in so many things.
I think of these and other similar ingredients as bases to build on. I use the vinegar syrup for food dishes like Cucumber salad, Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Sauce, other salad dressings and marinades.
I make it without any other flavors or ingredients so I can use it as a base. The rice vinegar is fruity, light and not aggressive. It accepts other flavor infusions very well and it is light in color.
To make the syrup I just use 2 parts sugar to one part vinegar and simmer low on the stove until the sugar has dissolved. It is really just a rich simple syrup using vinegar instead of water.
What this does is add an acidity to a one dimensional sweet syrup.
Sweet and Sour
Now you have acid and sweet in one neat package.

Did some investigating and found that the Romans and Byzantines drank something called Posca, spoiled/ sour wine, juices etc that would be mixed with herbs and other flavors. It was a natural source of Vitamin C and related to lacto fermentation in such things as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Going bad could mean going good.

Drinking vinegars essentially vanished from Western diets, but are well known in many Asian nations (Korea, Japan, China). It has been rediscovered in this country and thought about taking the rice vinegar sugar base into the drinking vinegar and cocktail realm.

I use the rice vinegar syrup as the base for my old school Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Sauce, which is really fresh pineapple that is ultra pureed and then drained of the natural juices.  To the rice vinegar base I add the juices and simmer. Once it is a syrup, I can then add the pineapple puree and voila! You have a bad ass sweet and sour sauce.

Ingredients
Korean Drinking Vinegar

Assorted retail options

But this is really, also, a fruit vinegar so I thought I would try it with other fruits and strain out the solid fruit matter after the infusion.
It worked fantastically.
It is simple. It is good. It lasts and has many uses including drinking it mixed with soda or in cocktails.
BASIC RICE VINEGAR SYRUP
4 Cups White Cane Sugar
2 cups Plain Rice Vinegar (some come flavored or spiced, so check the label)
Place ingredients into appropriate sized sauce pan.
Stir until it is as dissolved as possible before placing on heat. This minimizes chances of burning or caramelizing the sugar on the bottom of the sauce pan.
Vinegar Syrup

Place pan on low heat and stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Make sure you keep the sides of the pan clean of grains of sugar. I use a heat resistant silicone spatula. Stray sugar granules could cause the syrup to start to crystallize in the storage jar. Nothing to freak about though.
It is important to use at least 2 parts sugar to 1 part vinegar (you can even use a little more). This is a way of ensuring that your syrup does not just taste like vinegar. Even though it is vinegar, we want the sugar to help tame the vinegar sharpness. The fruit will help even more. You want hints of vinegar, not raw vinegar taste.
Simmer until the syrup is clear and no sugar crystals remain. Approximately 15-20 minutes
sugar crystals on side of pan
Clear Syrup
Cool and pour into glass jar. Does not need to be refrigerated. I keep a jar always in my cupboard.
RASPBERRY DRINKING VINEGAR/SHRUB
2 Cups Rice Vinegar Syrup
1 Pint of Fresh Raspberries
Pour cleaned raspberries into appropriate sized non-reactive deep bowl or cambro. Heat the vinegar until it simmers. Pour the vinegar over the raspberries and stir a bit to make sure everything is incorporated and cover.You can mash the berries slightly but don’t blend them. This allows for the juice to be released and minimize the particle sediment for aesthetics.
Some fruit needs to be crushed or mashed. Each fruit selected for your vinegar may need some special attention. This is the basic process.
Hot vinegar syrup. Macerate fruit. Strain fruit.
Allow the fruit to macerate over night. Then strain and bottle.
This also does not need refrigeration, but it wont hurt it if you do.

Straining Raspberries

Finished Raspberry Vinegar
Suggestions for fruits:
All Berries
Pineapple
Passion Fruit
Guava
Sour Sop
Rhubarb
Cherries

Spices and herbs can work well, when used appropriately, as the base or as a compliment to your fruit.

Suggestions for Combos:
Strawberry and Tellicherry Peppercorn
Pineapple and Sage
Pineapple and Ginger
Guava and Ginger
My rule of thumb for using a spice as a compliment is use less of the spice or herb than you might think. The vinegar syrup will take on a lot of the flavors and a little goes a long way. You want your Strawberry Peppercorn to taste like Strawberry Peppercorn, not Peppercorn Strawberry.
You can also use things like citrus peel or make combos of fruits that go well together. Lemon Peel and Pineapple, or Orange Peel and Cherry.
BRIAR GIMLET
2 oz London Dry Gin or Solid Vodka
½ oz Raspberry Vinegar
In mixing glass filled with ice, add both ingredients and stir.
Strain into tasteful, chilled cocktail glass or on one large ice cube in small rocks glass.
Yes this is a Briar… in homage to the Bramble.
CUCUMBER SALAD
1 Cucumber, seeded, peeled and dice cut.
Thin sliced red onion to taste
DRESSING
3 tblsp Plain Rice Vinegar Syrup or to taste
Pinch of Salt
Zest of half a lime
Mix dressing and pour over cucumbers in bowl. Serve or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Try chopped Napa cabbage instead of cucumber. It is amazing and a great palate cleanser.
FRUIT VINEGAR AND SODA

2 oz Fruit Vinegar
Ice
Tall Glass
Club Soda
Fruit for garnish
HISTORICAL RECIPES

RASPBERRY SHRUB
(The Settlement Cookbook, Milwaukee, WI 1947)

4 qts Raspberries
1 qt Vinegar
Sugar

Mash red or black raspberries, and cover with the vinegar.Let stand over night or longer; strain. To each pint of juice, add 1 pound of sugar, boil 20 minutes; then put in sterilized bottles and keep in cool place. Use 2 tablespoons to a glass of water.

RASPBERRY SHRUB
(Buckeye Cookery, Mpls, MN circa 1880)

Place raspberries in a stone jar, cover them with good cider vinegar, let stand over night; next morning strain, and to one pint of juice add one pint of sugar, boil ten minutes, and bottle while hot. —Mrs. Judge West

GRANDMOTHERS HARVEST DRINK
(Buckeye Cookery, Mpls, MN circa 1880)

One quart of water, table-spoon sifted ginger, three heaping table-spoons sugar, half pint vinegar.

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