Shrub, Part II
When last we left our bowls of fruit, they were dry and covered in a heavy coating of sugar. A day and a half on the counter, and they’d thrown off huge amounts of juice. Nearly unbelievable amounts of juice. Let’s compare.
That’s good though, that’s exactly what we want them to do. I’m not quite sure how that works (if forced to guess I’d say something about osmotic pressure and sugar and cell walls, but chemistry was a long time ago and was shamefully lacking in plums).
Now, the stuff in those bowls is yummy. You can (I checked, just for the sake of science you understand) happily eat the fruit and use the syrup right now. But it isn’t a shrub. Shrubs need a tart/vinegar aspect to them as well as the sweet/fruit thing we’ve got here so far. Now there’s a very good chance that if you left this just as it is on the counter, it would get there on its own eventually. There are naturally occurring yeasts on the surface of the fruit, and those would eat up some of that sugar and make alcohol. Then various acetobacter would likely move in and turn that alcohol into vinegar. But that would take a while and there’s a decent chance it would go wrong and you’d end up with a bowl of yuck.
I went with a safer route. I poured a whack (probably about 4 cups, about as much as the liquid the fruit had thrown off) of apple cider vinegar right on in the bowls. Just glugged it right on top and closed the plastic wrap back up.
The vinegar you use for this is important. You want one that tastes good to you and that still nice and lively. Yes, vinegar is alive. Well at least non-pasteurized vinegar is alive. That means those acetobacter I mentioned a moment ago are still in there and still doing their thing (that thing being eating alcohol and making vinegar), and that’s exactly what you want here. The crunchier and more granola your vinegar, the better. So if you got it at the farmer’s market or the vineyard or the orchard, great. If you got it at your local hippie grocery store, that’s great too. If you got the gallon jug of distilled white vinegar at the drug store? Not so much.
We actually are pushing the boundaries of socially acceptable kitchen shenanigans here and we have our own giant jug of apple cider vinegar that we’ve been shepherding along (refreshing it with more apple cider as we run low) for months. It’s the most delicious thing ever, and it goes in an awful lot of what we cook. I know some folks will think that’s gross, or a pain, and that’s fine. This will absolutely work with vinegar from the store. This is just what I had on hand, and I know we like it, so it’s what I used.
Now comes more waiting. I’ll let this sit on the fruit for about two more days, then I’ll strain out all the fruit and put the syrup in glass bottles…at which point it will look much prettier (bowls of vinegar with chunks floating in them aren’t exactly the prettiest blog fodder), and I will come show it off with nicer looking pictures.