STRAWBERRY-PEACH BASIL DRINKING VINEGAR
The summer has been ridiculously hot! and, for me, the perfect thirst quencher has a few things: (1) it has to be cold (obvi...). (2) it needs acid - think lemonade! some sort of tart bite to it. (3) and a hint of sweetness (4) sometimes, bubbles help!
In a lot of different cultures, instead of citrus fruits, vinegar is used to add that touch of sour. Whether it's Irani sekanjabin, a simple syrup infused with vinegar and mint, Greek posca made with vinegar, water and herbs, Asian drinking vinegars or simply the various cultural adages that drinking vinegar has health benefits, it's sort of been around for a long time, and, if you live in Brooklyn like me, some variation may just be in your corner bodega....
Shrub is the name given to the American colonial era version of the drink, and the modern versions of this drink often have fruits. Mine has strawberries and peaches, and, not just any strawberries and peaches - the most bruised and battered ones! Yes, this is an amazing way to utilize the fruits that are still good but may not make it to your fruit plate or win any beauty contests. Typically, you sort of mix everything together (i.e. cold brew it) and let the flavor develop over a week or two. For the impatient ones among us, myself included, I cook the fruit down with raw honey (in lieu of sugar) and herbs (here, a gorge, purple basil that has been growing like a weed in my garden). I finish it off with some raw apple cider vinegar, and once cooled and strained, it's ready to go!
There are a million different combinations you can make with this recipe - different fruits, different herbs, and even different vinegars. I take a few tablespoons of this over ice and top it off with some club soda (and sometimes vodka...) for the ultimate refreshing summer drink!
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups
1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup peaches, pitted and diced
8-9 leaves basil (purple or green)
1/2 - 2/3 cup raw honey (adjust to your sweetness preference)
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
In a medium pot, bring strawberries, peaches, basil, honey, and 1 cup of water up to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes until the fruit breaks down. Remove from the heat, add the vinegar and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Strain, pressing all of the juice out of the fruits as you do, and refrigerate. It should keep for about a month (or even longer, though I never have any after that point!).
I take about 4 tablespoons of the shrub over ice and top with a 1/2 cup of club soda or even fresh coconut water for a great drink.