Friday, September 26, 2014

Jessica Redux: Streamlined and Refined

Bottles of Jessica

Since my return, I have revisited several of the early shrubs once again, not only to finally share the recipes that I wish I had given you in the first place, but also to take a look at some of them in the cold light of day several years on to see if there are things that could be better or different in light of my experiences with the craft in the past several years.

Jessica is a really great example of one that has likely gained the benefit of some good old fashioned hindsight. While I realize that I am known for experimenting with odd flavors in this medium, in the more recent past I have discovered that there is a time and a place for both methods of thinking. Sometimes, you just want to taste the fruit, and having a simple shrub that highlights that is exactly what you want.

In its first incarnation, Jessica was supposed to approximate a peach cobbler by utilizing allspice berries and vanilla along with the earthier undertones of brown sugar. I enjoyed it at the time, but after getting a massive windfall of stellar peaches from an Eastern Washington farm recently, this definitely seemed like a great time to put the less is more practice into action.

Essentially, the base of Jessica is the same: white wine vinegar, brown sugar, and damned ripe peaches. The only difference is the new absence of vanilla and spice.

Is it better? I think so.

The original arrangement definitely evoked exactly the feelings about a peach baked good that I was after, but ultimately with such a great fruit, it occurred to me that this kind of narrowed profile could be cutting me off from other avenues, be it cocktail or cooking.

I am hoping to illustrate later this week just how scaling back to this simplified recipe will allow me to use the shrub in a couple of other ways.

But enough of that. Without further ado, I present the final recipe of Jessica, which I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do.


16 oz Peaches, cut into chunks
13 oz brown sugar
16 oz white wine vinegar

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 peaches 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 peach chunks into container until desired weight is reached. Use tare function again.
Pour or spoon brown sugar into container until desired amount is reached. , and using muddler, grind sugar into peaches 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  white wine 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.



Barbara said...

I'm sure I'd love this peach shrub. Peach cobbler is my favorite dessert, after all. I will NOT, however, call it by that name. I will not associate a great flavor that I love with the name of someone I despise. Why is it called that? Did you or someone else name it that? I'm simply going to call it a peach shrub and that's that.

Alexander Kern said...

Hi! I hope you get a chance to try the peach shrub as it is pretty great.

I often name shrubs after references to music or films or famous people, and this was named after the Allman Brothers song Jessica. I figured that since they had an album called Eat A Peach, it made thematic sense.

It is usually easier for me to call the shrubs by names than to say everything in it every time.

Thanks for reading!