|Peaches, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Bean, Allspice Berries|
Unlike previous weeks, in which I grabbed whatever half-assed pictures I could with my phone's dinky camera, I have to thank my wife Sarah, whose generous efforts to get up at the ass crack of Saturday morning to actually do some real art direction over the shrub process made this look like an actual food blog. But without further ado, on to the shrub.
First, the peaches needed to be prepped, and that means getting them sliced open and yanking the pits out. As you can see, the peaches were rather sizeable, and it really only took two of these stone pitted gargantuans to give me the pound of fruit I was looking for.
Things were going smoothly, until Sarah asked what kind of sugar I was planning on using for these.
"Brown Sugar," I said, going to the lazy susan to pull it out.
There was a little bit of silence, puncuated by an soft, "Umm..."
I quickly realized what the "Umm" was about. I looked at the bag of brown sugar, and based on what I saw, I knew there was no way this was going to work. It was bad enough that I was likely going to come up short on brown sugar for this shrub, but also for the apple shrub I had planned to do after.
"Wait! I think we can make brown sugar, actually," Sarah said confidently.
|No, it's not a Rorschach test.|
|Light Brown Sugar! No Dark Magic!|
There was a lot to like here; "Jessica" was full of ripe, round peach flavors, if a bit on the mild side, and the flavor of allspice was undoubtedly a delicious and welcome compliment to peaches. It achieved that desired evocation of peach cobbler that I was after, and I enjoyed it.
The subtle details are where the next batch of "Jessica" could definitely be tweaked for the better. For one thing, I was a bit hasty in adding that extra bit of allspice, I think. As it sat for the first week, its strength really came on strong and illustrated that the extra couple of teaspoons may have actually moved it from, "assertive" to "aggressive" and to some, "overpowering." The use of brown sugar added a great depth of flavor, but it probably would have benefited from a lighter hand. Also, as prevalent as the allspice was, the vanilla moved in the inverse direction, hiding its subtle charms somewhere behind the allspice. Looking back, I really think I should have probably used the whole bean, scraped all of those seeds out, and shook the jar more often during that initial week long period before bottling.
Despite these minor quibbles, I found that it improved a fair amount with the addition of water, as it allowed a lot of the spice to decompress a little, as well as cutting the slightly cloying nature from the large amount of brown sugar I used. It was as if I were drinking a more complex and interesting version of Peach Nehi. If one were so inclined, they might somehow pair this with bourbon and other liqueurs, or use it as a delightful topping for vanilla ice cream. Better yet, make a vanilla/bourbon/"Jessica" milkshake. Oh yeah, now we're talking...
|"Jessica" In Bottles|