Everyone in my house is obsessed with blood oranges so a shrub or drinking vinegar to preserve the flavour beyond the season seemed like a good idea because I’m not sure how any of us will cope when the season is over. This shrub has not lasted for long in the fridge though as it is so delicious and refreshing with bubbly water or with gin or champagne. The shrub syrup is also amazing when poured over fresh strawberries.
A shrub is an old fashioned recipe for a drinking vinegar that can be made using fruit or vegetables, spices and herbs, sugar and vinegar and historically sometimes alcohol such as rum. Shrubs are a creative way of preserving and intensifying seasonal flavours and are fantastic in cocktails and with any kind of bubbles as a refreshing drink. The traditional ratio for making shrub is 1:1:1, fruit or vegetable, sugar, vinegar.
I have made my own twist on the old fashioned shrub by decreasing the sugar and the vinegar to work with the sweetness of blood oranges and spices that intensify this sweetness such as cinnamon and vanilla and the addition of a small amount of orange blossom honey for added flavour. There is a warm spice kick in this refreshing drink with pink pepper, ginger, star anise and nutmeg balanced with fresh thyme.
Spiced blood orange & thyme shrubPrint Recipe
- 1-2 500ml glass jars or bottles
- 500 grams blood oranges
- 200 grams coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons honey, I used orange blossom honey
- ½ cup water
- ½-¾ cup apple cider vinegar (add to taste)
- Small knob grated ginger
- Vanilla pod with seeds scraped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- 1 teaspoon pink pepper corns
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Remove the zest from the oranges and rub this with the sugar to release the oils, set this mixture aside while you make the rest of the shrub
Juice the oranges
Add the sugar, zest and orange juice to a saucepan along with the thyme, ginger, spices, honey and water
Very gently warm this on a low heat only to dissolve the sugar
Remove from the heat and allow the shrub to infuse for 2 hours and to cool to room temperature
Meanwhile sterilise your jars or bottles (see Resources)
When the shrub mix is at room temperature add ½ a cup of the vinegar and taste – if it’s not too acid add the remaining ¼ cup) and strain into another saucepan or jug using a fine mesh sieve
Bottle the shrub and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Delicious with mineral water and any other bubbles such as prosecco or champagne, with gin and in other cocktails and poured over desserts such as fresh strawberries garnished with fresh thyme
This recipe is inspired by Jaimee Edward’s from Cornersmith recipe for Strawberry and basil shrub. For more detailed information about shrubs recipes and their fascinating history see Shrubs by Michael Dietsch. Food52, The Kitchn and Food in Jars have other great resources on how to make shrubs.