“Assume Nothing!” A mantra for The Crown as we worked towards opening our doors in March of 2019, the phrase became a Menu section, encouraging our visitors to drop their preconceptions and be open to new and delicious experiences. And now it’s the title of a recipe series, for you to recreate at home. Here’s to a year of assuming nothing!
Ginger Lime Shrub
A classic, zesty, lightly fermented refreshing sipper made short work of all that citrus we had lying around. Add some sparkling water, or use it as a base for a cocktail!
(yields 1L of shrub syrup, can be scaled up — we made 5x recipe to yield 5L)
- 4 lbs Organic Limes
- 1 lb Organic White Cane Sugar (or half the amount of chopped fruit by volume)
- Ginger Root (to taste)
- 1L White wine vinegar
Cut the limes into rough quarters or eighths. The more fruit meat is exposed (meaning, the thinner you slice) the more opportunity there is for the sugar and vinegar to interact with it. Chop the ginger into slices–no need to remove the skin since we’re planning on straining this anyway.
(Since we only use the outermost peel for our oleo saccharum, all that leftover lime fruit still has plenty of pith attached. If the pith is too thick it can affect the flavor of your shrub, so I recommend removing it.)
Place both the lime wedges and ginger slices in a non-reactive sealed container, then cover them with the sugar and toss to coat evenly. Add white wine vinegar to the sugar-fruit mixture, and stir it gently to mix all the elements. Place the whole mixture into the fridge to rest for at least two weeks, stirring every few days to prevent mold and ensure that all of the fruit is being evenly exposed to vinegar.
After two weeks, use a metal strainer lined with a cheesecloth to strain out the fruit solids. Return the resulting syrup to the fridge and let rest for at least another 2 weeks before serving. One of the most important ingredients for a good shrub is time: time for a little bit of fermentation to take place between the fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and then even more time to let these flavors rest and meld together. A good shrub usually takes about 4 weeks, but adding a few weeks to this wouldn’t do anything but help.
Store in sanitized containers in the fridge. It will keep for at least 3 months.
As a beverage, shrubs have their roots in nautical life. Sailors were on board vessels for months at a time and faced the potential to contract scurvy (among other diseases) from vitamin deficiency and general malnourishment. Citrus and ginger shrubs were the very first shrubs, invented to help combat the problems specific to a sailor’s life: vitamin C from the preserved citrus helped boost the immune system, vinegar helped sanitize the drinking water, and ginger helped with the inevitable stomach upsets that ensued.
But all these sensible reasons to make a shrub kind of miss the point: they’re delicious! Shrubs may have originated as a health tonic for sailors, but over time, they’ve been refined to be increasingly palatable on their own or as a zesty cocktail supplement. we like to serve ours as a standalone beverage, adding the concentrated shrub syrup to a glass of sparkling water for a delicious and palate-cleansing refresher.
At the Crown, we make oleo saccharum from citrus peel, leaving us with plenty of leftover fruit to use in our seasonal shrub recipes. While you don’t have to use citrus to make a shrub (and we have used other fruits to produce delicious results for The Crown), the classic ginger-lime combination is one that we can really get behind.
For more info on the history of shrubs, check out our article on the subject!