Shrub, or cordial

Country Living (UK) published a recipe for strawberry cordial that is remarkably similar to the shrubs found in earlier century’s cookbooks. Here’s the recipe in my interpretation, and a review of the product.

Two pounds of strawberries
About two pounds of sugar
600ml red wine vinegar
Three to four days

Rinse, hull, and slice the strawberries. Place in a medium-large bowl.
Add as much sugar as will fit in the bowl with the strawberries. I was a bit short, maybe three cups and not four. Stir to coat the strawberries as evenly as possible. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for three to four days, stirring twice daily.
The strawberries will shrink as they macerate, and each time you stir, less sugar will be caked on the bottom of the bowl.
When the sugar is completely dissolved on the third or fourth day, pour the mixture into a large pan. Add 600ml of red wine vinegar (I used the store brand and it was just fine).
Heat, and allow to boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to sit to 10 minutes. Skim off anything that has risen to the surface—the recipes warn you to do this, but my berries were well cleaned and the sugar dissolved fully, so there was nothing to skim.

Strain through a clean cloth, and decant. If storing for up to a month, pour into sterilized bottles or jars. If using promptly, a clean glass container will do.

We mixed the cordial with cold water, and it was delicious, though it would have been even better with sparkling or soda water than flat. We also served it with prosecco, and I assume that was also delicious because it went fast at the opening and I did not get to try it at all!

The syrup or cordial is a rich ruby red, and lustrous. The taste is an interesting twist of sweet and tangy that’s quite refreshing; that same description was used by most tasters. It was not a hit with the adolescent crowd, who prefer orange soda, but adults were surprised and enjoyed the taste.

I’ll have to make it again, and soon, while berries are in season. Some recipes call for raspberries, and I may try that in a smaller batch.