“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!
Peach Jalapeño Shrub
Sweet, sour, and a little bit spicy, this lightly fermented refreshing sipper tastes great in sparkling water, or as a base for a cocktail.
(yields 1L of shrub syrup, can be scaled up — we made 5x recipe to yield 5L)
- 5 lbs Peaches
- 1 lb Organic White Cane Sugar (or half the amount of chopped fruit by volume)
- 3 Jalapeños
- 1L White Wine Vinegar
Wash and dry the peaches and jalapeños. Cut the peaches into roughly bite size pieces. 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! No need to remove the skin since we’re planning on straining this anyway.
Use a cooking torch,char the skin of the jalapeños (using a pan on a gas range to blister the outside of the peppers would work just as well – just make sure to hold the jalapeños with tongs and use fire safety!). This will add some smoky flavors to the shrub and tone down the spice kick. When the jalapeños have cooled, de-seed them and slice them.
Place the chopped peaches and peppers in a (non-reactive) sealed container, and cover with sugar. Toss to coat evenly. Add 1 liter of white wine vinegar to the sugar/fruit mixture, and stir the mixture 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 ensure all the fruit is submerged and is being evenly exposed to vinegar.
After two weeks, use a metal strainer and 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 fermentation to take place between the fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and then even more time to let these flavors rest and meld together after fermentation has been halted. A good shrub usually takes about 4 weeks, but adding a few weeks to this wouldn’t do anything but help.
Add to sparkling or still water at a 1:16 ratio for a refreshing drink, or add to a cocktail or mocktail for extra kick. And don’t forget – any shrub can be cooked down into a gastrique, a heavy, syrupy sauce that may be the perfect complement to your next meal.
Store in sanitized containers in the fridge. It will keep for at least 3 months.
When peach season rolled around, we couldn’t wait to do something with the irresistibly delicious stone fruit. We wanted to enjoy the peaches for a long time, so preserving them in shrub-form seemed like a no-brainer. Always on the hunt for new flavors, we did some experimenting with jalapeños from one of our barista’s gardens. Peaches and peppers make for a delightful flavor harmony! Charring and de-seeding the jalapeños means that this drink is barely spicy at all, but if you want more kick, leave some seed in or use more peppers!
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.
For more info on the history of shrubs, check out our article on the subject!