Drinking Vinegar: Foraged Wild Blackberry Sage Shrub
Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegar, would seem to be the lasted hipster trend. Actually, though, shrubs were all ole time-y favorite that has recently resurfaced – and frankly, this is one hipster trend that I hope sticks around. Sweet and tart are two flavor profiles that always play well together. In true herbalist fashion, I wanted to create a shrub with extra botanical spin, hence, my blackberry sage shrub was born.
A shrub is essentially a fruit syrup married with vinegar and used as a base for soda, water, or alcoholic drinks. They are sweet, tangy – and the options for flavors are only limited by your imagination. This blackberry sage shrub is sweet and robust, with subtle herbal notes, making it wonderfully drinkable either as a cocktail or a non-alcoholic sparkling drink. As blackberries are especially juicy, one can make cook the fruit and sugar on their own, and after cooling and straining, add raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar for a probiotic punch. Of course, there is the delightful color too – a shrub of the richest burgundy and the beverage that glows like a ruby!
I have been combining the savory, herbal flavors of culinary sage with blackberry for some time now, by making a syrup that I gave out to my CSA clients for cocktails and family friendly drinks. I loved using this syrup to flavor second kombucha ferments. When I finally got turned onto the shrub fad (admittedly late to the proverbial party) and inspired by my friend Teri’s post, I knew that blackberry sage shrub would become a family favorite. After all, this is just an amped up, probiotic version of my favorite summer syrup.
Himalayan blackberries are the bane and the bounty of Pacific Northwest. It doesn’t take long for a solitary shoot to become an overgrown hedge, dominating and drowning a landscape. Standard Blackberry removal strategies often resort to chemical warfare. Personally, I have a little bit more of a live and let live approach on our property. We aggressively cut back the established hedges when needed, and enjoy its bountiful fruits during the summer. This summer the wild crop is especially abundant and I see many batches of blackberry sage shrub in our future.
Sage may seem like an unlikely flavor in association with blackberry – please let me assure you otherwise. Culinary sage lends a wonderful savory note to the shrub without overpowering the fruit flavors. From an herbal energetics standpoint, sage is especially cooling. In fact, it is the first herb that I suggest to people suffering from night sweats and hot flashes. Without a doubt, sage is the perfect addition to this summer drink.
Feel free to adjust this recipe to your personal sweetness preference. Two cups of sugar to two cups of fruit seemed just right based on my preference, but can be adjusted according to your palate. It does seem like an awful lot of sugar upon the first impression, but remember that you will only be using very small amounts of the blackberry sage shrub per actual beverage. Again, when mixing your actual beverage play around with the amount of shrub used.
Looking for more blackberry ideas – check out this sorbet!
Blackberry Sage Shrub
This blackberry sage shrub is cooling, sweet, with subtle herbal overtones -- perfect for summer beverages!
- 2 cups wild blackberries
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
- .5-1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaf
- 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
In a small saucepan, heat the berries, sage, and sugar over medium heat until they start to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool until room temperature.
Pass berry mixture through a fine mesh sieve (compost or discard the seeds and pulp), into a medium size bowl or a large liquid measuring cup. Add apple cider vinegar to strained berry syrup. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.
To prepare a beverage, add shrub to taste along with sparkling water and/or spirits. Enjoy!