Today I'm sat looking out of my window at the rain. You'd think we'd totally missed spring and summer and moved straight to autumn in London right now!! I'm compensating by filling my kitchen with flowers and the smell of fresh baking which always makes me happy. As the school half term approaches, I'm looking forward to a break in the countryside, raiding the herbs, fruit and flowers of the orchard and vegetable garden. And experimenting with more shrub syrups. I first read about these botanical shrub syrups when we were travelling around New Zealand over easter and I thought they'd be the perfect drink for spring mixed with a little prosecco or sparkling water.
Shrub syrups are enjoying a revival right now and this tart syrup, made with different fruits, spices, sugar and vinegar are the perfect accompaniment to spirits or as a cordial in non-alcoholic drinks. These vinegars originally preserved fruit back in 15th century England and you can still enjoy the leftover fruit from this process with your cheese plate.
They're simple to make and can encompass a whole variety of fruits whilst they're in season so it'a challenge to come up with your favourite flavours! I wanted a syrup that would primarily go with prosecco as this seemed like a very springtime-like drink (and my favourite tipple!) so I decided to start with one flavoured with plums, blackberries, peppercorns and red wine vinegar.
Once the vinegar was combined with the fruits, I let it rest for a week before straining the syrup (I saved the fruit for a cheese plate, but it was a little too vinegary for me!) and we debuted it at a dinner party with friends. I adore the colour and adding a little blackberry to your fizz makes such a pretty drink. The amount of syrup in each drink was a matter of taste but around a tablespoon should be your starting point.
There are so many more flavours to try. I love the idea of pairing gin with herbs, cucumber and lemon which just seems like an equally refreshing drink for the warmer days to come. I hope I've inspired you to have a go making one of your own fruit vinegar syrups and I'd love to hear what combinations you come up with :)
plum & blackberry shrub syrup + prosecco
- 10 blackberries
- 8 plums, sliced into quarters and stones removed
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup sugar
- 750ml red wine vinegar
- 1 litre mason jar, sterilised
- place the plums, blackberries and peppercorns into the mason jar
- bring the vinegar to the boil in a saucepan
- once boiling pour the vinegar into the mason jar over the fruits
- leave the vinegar to cool and then seal the jar
- put it to one side until it's the strength you'd like - I left mine for 5 days
- strain the vinegar through a sieve or cheese cloth into a saucepan
- you can throw away the fruit now or place it into a separate jar and enjoy it with cheese and biscuits
- add the sugar to the saucepan and bring the vinegar mixture to a simmer
- remove it from the heat and taste it for sweetness, adding a little more sugar if you'd enjoy it a little sweeter
- leave it to cool before using
- add 1 tablespoon of the syrup into the bottom of a champagne or cocktail glass and then top with chilled prosecco (or sparkling water if you prefer a non-alcoholic drink)
- drop in a fresh blackberry and serve chilled :)
You can keep your fruit vinegar syrup in a sterilised jar until you're ready to use it