Photo by Jane Mason
Provenance of Dish
Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, have been consumed in some form or another for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, soured wine—aka vinegar, was added to dirty water, often with herbs, to make it safe to drink and also somewhat palatable. It was called Posca and was regularly consumed by soldiers and common people (the wealthy drank the wine before it soured!). Later shrubs were served aboard trading ships and contained alcohol in place of the vinegar. Today shrub is generally known as a sweet and sour syrup made from vinegar, sugar, and fruit (though many other things can be used as well) that is served mixed with sparkling water. The vinegar in shrub will mellow with age, so patience is always a virtue. Feel free to adjust the ratios according to your taste!
4-5 ounces fresh chanterelles, sliced, or ½ ounce dried
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
Place the chanterelles and vinegars in a saucepan—the vinegar should cover the mushrooms. Heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, and simmer for five minutes, being careful not to let it truly boil. Cover, turn off the stove, and let it sit.
When it is cool, pour into a mason jar with a lid and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days, shaking occasionally.
Put the mixture back in the pot, add the sugar, and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cool, strain the mushrooms (save them for a salad or eat like sweet pickles!), and place the shrub in a jar.
To serve, pour sparkling water into a glass with ice and add shrub to taste. Enjoy!
Note: Chanterelle shrub is delicious on its own or with a slice of lemon, but can also be mixed with many other flavors of shrub. Favorite combinations in my house are chanterelle-strawberry, chanterelle-apricot, and chanterelle-spruce tip. A general rule of thumb for shrub is 1:1:1 fruit (or other item), vinegar, and sugar. There are many different methods and many swear by a cold method, but I find a low simmer blends the flavors well without taking much of a toll on freshness. Experiment and see what you like!