Monday, August 18, 2014

The Savory Shrub: Elizabeth Revisited

Hello again.

Apologies for the long delay between posts; I was on holiday in Oregon and didn't have much access to do much in the way of shrub related activities for the past week or so.

To make up for this terrible lapse, this week I wanted to revisit one of the more unusual shrubs that I've done, and that was Elizabeth, an heirloom tomato and berbere shrub I did a couple of years back. When I say unusual, I mean to say that unlike most of the jammier, fruit and herb based options, Elizabeth had the distinction of being the first shrub that I ever did that leaned savory rather than sweet. I won't bore you with all the fine details again in this post, but if you want to re-read the original or haven't read it before, you can do so here.

If one can get past Elizabeth's ruddy, not so glamorous looks, I think the shrub's savory nature really lends itself to some really interesting possibilities outside of being enjoyed by itself; I mean, let's face it, I don't foresee people sitting around sipping on this one with soda they way they might with a strawberry or ginger shrub, so it's likely going to be the backbone of some other delicious and quaffable application.

In regard to those applications, I am hoping to share some of those possibilities with you shortly, beginning with an interesting cocktail that goes its own way, straying adventurously from the path of the world's well-worn vodka fueled brunch staple. 

In the meantime, you'll need to know how to make this delightful megaton payload of umami greatness before Heirloom Tomato season is over, so without further ado, here you are:


16 oz heirloom tomatoes
8 oz brown sugar
12 oz white wine vinegar
4 oz apple cider vinegar(Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
2 tsp bebere, ground

Food scale
Sealable non-reactive container
Muddler or heavy spoon
Strainers of increasing fineness
Large measuring cup
Tea strainer
Funnel(preferably canning funnel)
Sealable glass bottle

Wash tomatoes and pat dry. Cut into large chunks and set aside.

Put open non-reactive container on scale and use tare function to zero out the reading. Gently drop tomato chunks into container until desired weight is reached. Use tare function again.

Pour or spoon brown sugar into container until desired amount is reached. Add ground berbere, and using muddler, grind sugar into tomato until a thick, syrupy mixture forms. Seal container and rest mixture in refrigerator for 2-5 hours.

Remove container from refrigerator and unseal. Place on scale, once again using tare function. Add appropriate amount of white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar to container. Reseal, and place back into refrigerator. Rest jar one week.

After one week, remove container from refrigerator. Arrange strainers in levels of increasing fineness over measuring cup. Strain liquid through strainers, pressing on pulp to express any trapped shrub. 

Place funnel in bottle, and situate tea strainer in funnel opening. Pour strained shrub through tea strainer into bottle, and seal bottle. 

Refrigerated shrub should last from six months to one year.


See you all later this week with a cocktail!

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