Shrubs: Tasty Drinking Vinegars

Shrubs! Our newest obession. They’re sour and tangy with a touch of sweetness. Born out of the colonial times shrubs came out of the need for preservation using leftover fruit scraps or overripe fruit. By adding sugar, vinegar and time what seemed like the simplest of materials jammed into a jar ultimately became these amazing drinking vinegars. Remember how I mentioned the colonial times? Well during the colonial era the people were making shrubs and wanted to export them but, didn’t want to be taxed. So they would make the shrubs, put them in wooden barrels and bury them in the ocean until they could smuggle them. (Gotta love a good historical fun fact!) What we think is amazing about shrubs is the waste nothing approach and that they are good alone, mixed in seltzer, for a good mocktail or a good cocktail! Here’s our step by step for making your own tasty shrubs.

Pineapple Jalapeno Shrub

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

1 fresh jalapeño chopped

1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup honey

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Add your ingredients to a pan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

While cooking the mixture mash it to release more juice from the fruit. Another option is to food process or put in the mixture into a vitamix.

Once the fruit becomes more of a pulp and the juices thicken, take off the stove and strain into a bottle or jar.

Let sit out in a cool dark place to ferment for 5-7 days (you can go longer)

Put in the fridge for up to two months

Use 2 tablespoons per drink with seltzer water or add vodka too for cocktail


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Shio Koji

Shio Koji in short means “ Salt Koji.” You take koji, salt, and water and let it sit for around 10 days. What I find most interesting about the Shio Koji process is that salt actually kills the Aspergillus oryzae. Lucky for us, it’s enzymes remain and when you throw into the mix the carbohydrates and sugars that exist in grains and by creating the right fermentation environment you are able to grow some solid bacteria. What does this mean for us? We have this amazingly tasty, umami, bacterial goodness that we can use to create other fermentations or secondary fermentations.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite uses for Shio Koji:

  • Shio Koji cured meat

  • Shio koji in handmade pasta (a lovely trick we learned from Ourcookquest)

  • Sauces & Marinades

  • An alternative for soy sauce

  • Alternative ways to make pickles

Here’s our recipe for Shio Koji :

2 cups koji

2 cups water

1/8 cup salt

Mix together well and move to a jar with a finger tight lid. Let it sit in a cool and dark place for 10-12 days. Every day you’ll want to stir or shake the mixture. When it’s complete you can opt to blend the mixture or leave it in it’s original state and then move it to the fridge. Shio Koji can be used for 6 month from the date of making — so make sure you date it.

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Fermented Root Beer

One of our Winter favorites! We recommend hitting up any great herbal store or apothecary to grab the sassafras, sarsaparilla, and birch bark. We love to shop online at Mountain Rose Herbs, and locally here in NYC we like to shop at Flower Power, Anima Mundi Apothecary, or Radical Herbs.

A quick note to this recipe is that you will need to make a Ginger Bug for this recipe. The bug serves as a starter to start the inoculation process to allow the root beer to ferment.

GINGER BUG

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh, grated ginger

  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Mix all 3 ingredients in a jar. Just toss them into the jar, put the lid on, and swirl it around to combine.

  2. Each day for 5–7 days, add the same equal parts of your 3 ingredients to the mixture and swirl.

    • 2 Tablespoons fresh, grated ginger

    • 2 Tablespoons cane sugar

    • 2 Tablespoons water

The Ginger Bugs are now ready to use for a variety of purposes. [You can also refer to Contraband Ferment’s Elderberry Soda recipe for one example].

FERMENTED ROOT BEER

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of water

  • ½ cup dried sassafras bark

  • ½ cup dried sarsaparilla root

  • ½ cup dried birch bark

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ½ cup molasses

  • ½–1 cup ginger bug

  • 3 slices of fresh ginger root

Instructions

1. Combine the water and herbs in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat

and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the

sassafras tea come to room temperature.

2. Strain out the herbs and put the tea into a wide mouth gallon jar.

3. Stir in the sugar, molasses, ginger bug, and ginger slices, then cover the

jug with a piece of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.

4. Put the jar in a quiet corner in your kitchen and let the root beer ferment.

Give it a vigorous stir once per day. It should start to bubble up within 3 to

4 days, then it’s ready to bottle.

5. Strain out the ginger pieces and transfer the root beer to flip top bottles

using a funnel, making sure to leave an inch or 2 of head space.

6. Let the bottles sit at room temperature to build up carbonation for at least

a week before drinking your root beer. Serve cold and enjoy!

Fermented Eggnog - Holiday Magic in a Bottle

The holidays are here and while I’m a little late in posting and starting this winter favorite, later is better than never! I have to admit I love the nostalgia and taste of a good eggnog, and what I don’t like is the aftermath of stomach upset that can sometimes come with it. This recipe is adapted from the Fermenters Club (www.fermentersclub.com) So, here is our favorite go to eggnog recipe both with dairy and without dairy (yes you can make it TWO ways!) and you can also have the option to add booze or no booze. It’s a holiday drink for everyone!

Fermented Eggnog (Dairy version)

Ingredients

  • 12 large chicken eggs

  • 2¼ cups sugar

  • ¾ cups local honey

  • 1 pint half-n-half

  • 1 pint  milk kefir (For a dairy free version use coconut or almond kefir)

  • 1 pint heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Separate the yolks from the egg whites, and store/use the whites for another purpose.

  2. Beat the yolks with the honey, sugar and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until the mixture lightens in color and falls off the whisk in a solid ribbon.

  3. Combine kefir, cream and half-n-half and salt in a second bowl or pitcher and then slowly beat into the egg mixture.

  4. Dispense mixture into glass bottles (three 750ml bottles e.g.) with screw caps or grolsch style swing top lids.

  5. Place bottles in the refrigerator to cure for 1 to 4 weeks If you remember, turn the bottles every week. It will slowly thicken and build up pleasant carbonation as it cures.

  6. Be careful when opening-- best to open slowly over the kitchen sink. Some pressure may have built up in the bottles.

  7. Let it sit for up to hour until it warms back to room temperature and thickens. The texture will be better than the richest cappuccino you've ever had (i.e. YES this final step is worth waiting for!)