When I was developing a rhubarb shrub recipe for my recent Serious Eats piece, it took three tries to get a recipe I was happy with. My first two attempts were cold processed shrubs, which I acutally prefer because they’re so darn easy. If you’ve never tried it, a cold processed shrub is just fruit mixed with sugar and allowed to macerate (ie: you forget about it) in the fridge for a few days. The resulting sugary juice is then mixed with vinegar for a tart, fruity syrup.
Attempts #1 and #2 were both cold processed and #2 was pretty darn good. I ultimately decided that my #3 version, a cooked shrub, was the winner. I realized that because we almost exclusively eat rhubarb cooked the flavor we tend to recognize as “rhubarb” is cooked rhubarb. That said, #3 won by just a hair and #2 was sweet, more fruity, and delicious in its own right. For these reasons and because I love the ease with which cold-processed shrubs come together, I decided to share the cold-processed version here.
I’ve been thinking of this as a small batch, starter shrub—the perfect thing to make if you haven’t quite caught the shrub-bug yet. It’s not as vinegary as some recipes, it retains the rhubarb’s lovely, pink hue, and it lets the unique side of rhubarb’s raw flavor to shine through. All good things!
- 6 oz rhubarb, diced
- 6 oz granulated sugar
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- Place the rhubarb and sugar in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl with foil and place in the fridge to macerate for 2 days.
- After two days, position a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and pour the mixture through to remove the solids. Save for another use or discard the solids.
- Combine the strained syrup with the vinegar in a pint jar and shake to combine and help dissolve any extra sugar.
- Serve topped with soda water to taste and store in the fridge.
- This really does make a small batch, right around a half pint. Of course, it can easily be scaled up if you have more rhubarb to invest and you already know you’re a fan of shrubs.
- Your final product will not suffer if the rhubarb macerates for a bit longer than two days.