Even non-fans of football enjoy the trappings around gamedays, i.e., beer, dips and finger foods. So, to up the pleasure of non-fans in our house on Monday nights (me), I put the season’s apple harvest and the soda stream to work. Results: a beer cocktail made with Apple Shrub Syrup, great beer, a dash of orange bitters and topped with bubbling carbonated water. It was a winner. Too bad for the Hub that the Bears weren’t winners also!
Apple Shrub Syrup:
I make and sell shrub syrups at Heathglen, but they are fairly easy to make if you have fresh fruit and some time. For the apple syrup I extracted the juice from the apples first.
While cold shrubbing (extracting the juice by letting the fruit sit overnight in sugar and then straining before adding vinegar) works well with fruit like strawberries or peaches, I don’t like to use the cold shrubbing method on apples. The resulting strained syrup is too sweet and too thick for my taste. I have a stainless steel steam juicer from Finland (called a Mehu Liisa) that I use to extract the juice. It’s somewhat expensive, but you could steam your apples in a double boiler if you’re just making a small batch and then strain. With apples, you could also put them through an apple press. If you go the apple press route however, make sure and pasteurize you apple shrub in the end by bringing it up to 160 degrees for a short time. This article from the University of Georgia has some good information on extracting juice from apples and when and why to pasteurize.
Sugar and Vinegar Ratios:
A shrub syrup is basically extracted juice, sugar and vinegar. The ratios of these 3 ingredients vary greatly depending on whose recipe you use and your own taste. The most common ratio of shrub ingredients is 1:1:1. That is 1 cup extracted juice to 1 cup sugar to 1 cup vinegar. Of course the type of sugar and the type of vinegar you use will add nuance to your shrub.
For our apple shrub from Heathglen I used organic Haralred apples from our farm, pure cane sugar mixed with maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. The ratios I used were 4 cups extracted apple juice to 2 1/4 cups sweetener (a blend of maple syrup and pure cane sugar, to 3 cups apple cider vinegar. (***Note: the apple shrub syrup is not yet listed on the website, but you can get it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting one of the farmers’ markets we do in the fall and winter)
If you are making a small batch, you’ll just need to experiment. The recipe is very forgiving and can easily be adjusted. Just remember, the vinegar will mellow after it sits with the apple syrup for a while so the first taste while cooking will be more pungent than the final product.
Hot Shrubbing method:
Once you’ve extracted the apple juice you need to add the sugar and vinegar. Pour the juice into a pot and add the sugar. Heat the mix slowly to dissolve the sugar. You do not need to boil the syrup mixture, just simmer it enough to dissolve the sugar. After the sugar is dissolved you can turn off the heat and add the vinegar, cover and let the syrup sit for several days to several weeks. I personally like to heat the mixture to about 165 degrees before covering to evaporate some of the volatile elements of the vinegar. I think it mellows the syrup, but it certainly isn’t necessary. Remember however, that if you extract the juice through the apple press, it should be brought up to 160 degrees for 5 minutes or so to pasteurize.
Beer Cocktail with Apple Shrub Syrup & Orange Bitters:
- 1 1/2 oz. Apple Shrub Syrup
- 10 oz. beer of your choice
- 2-3 dashes orange bitters
- 2 oz carbonated water
In a tall glass, add all of the ingredients and stir gently with a long bar spoon. Make sure all ingredients are really cold for the best drink.
Here’s a short “how-to” video on making the drink: