Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kiwi Shrub, Toasted Coconut Simple Syrup, & A Tropical Cocktail, Plus a Giveaway!





Today I am here to talk to you about shrubs. No, I am not talking about bushy green plants that grow out of the ground, I am talking about the tart, sweet, and fruity vinegar syrups that used to be added to water and cocktails back in the days of yore, and which are currently making quite the comeback in the home bar circuit. I hadn't heard of shrubs until I came across them on Carey's blog, Reclaiming Provincial, a few months back. She has some amazing recipes for them, including (but not limited to!) a Plum Orange shrub and a Cherry Balsamic shrub. A shrub syrup is made from fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and was used as a tool to preserve fruit juices back when refrigeration wasn't readily available. The possible variations on shrubs is enormous; you can use different types of sugars (cane sugar vs turbinado sugar, for example) for different flavors of sweetness, one or a mix of the many types of vinegars that exist, and fruit...well, there's a lot of different fruit out there. You can also add dried herbs and spices to the mix for even more flavors.


At the time that I was reading through Carey's posts it was a chilly autumn evening, and I bookmarked them in my brain to attempt once the weather had warmed up and I would truly appreciate a cold and fruity beverage. Well my friends, the time has come. It was in the 80's-90's this past week in North Hollywood, and boy did I need a drink. So, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to try my hand at this shrub business. Shrubs take about a week to make, the first day is spent letting the chopped up fruit sit in sugar and release its fruity juices. The second day you filter out the whole fruit bits and just keep the syrup in a jar with the vinegar. Then for the rest of the week you simply shake the jar once a day, and seven days later you have a nice little shrub syrup. If you want to, however, you can let the shrub sit for several weeks, as I've read that the tartness and sweetness mellow overtime and become more harmonious with a couple extra weeks in the fridge. This time I was too impatient and wanted to try that shrub syrup asap, but the next time I make them I am definitely going to let them sit in the fridge a few weeks longer to see if I can taste a difference.


You can mix shrub syrup with whatever beverage you like (seltzer water, ginger ale, etc.) I made some toasted coconut syrup and mixed it with the kiwi shrub, ginger ale, and spiced rum for a little tropical cocktail I dubbed Tart of the Pacific, inspired by Kevin Liu's many cocktail discussions in his book, Craft Cocktails At Home. I helped Kevin with some tastings on his chapter about bitters, (wormwood tastes exactly like dill pickles after extracting around for 10 days. Weird.) and Carey from Reclaiming Provincial contributed a portion about shrubs in the book along with more of her delicious shrub recipes. And because Kevin is awesome, he has offered to share Craft Cocktails at Home with one of you! The giveaway is comprised of:


If you are even slightly curious about making cocktails, I highly recommend reading through his book (the kindle version is only $3.99 on amazon. A steal, my friends!) From making flavored foam toppings, to building your own universal temperature controller, to how the mouth processes tastes and textures, this book covers absolutely everything that the inquisitive cocktail enthusiast would want to know about. I am a very curious person, and after reading it from cover to cover, I could not think of a cocktail-related subject the book hadn't talked about. Even proper glassware!

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below about your favorite cocktail or beverage. The deadline for entries is March 22nd and the winner will be announced in a new blog post on March 23rd. Good luck everyone!!

Note: This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and those 18 and older only.



Ingredients:

Kiwi Shrub

1 lb Kiwis, peeled and cut into quarters (great little trick for peeling kiwis here)
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
(2) 8 Ounce Canning Jars or (1) 16 Ounce Canning Jar, sterilized
Cheesecloth

Toasted Coconut Simple Syrup

1 Coconut
1 Cup Turbinado Sugar
3/4 Cup Water
(2) 8 Ounce Canning Jars or (1) 16 Ounce Canning Jar, sterilized
Cheesecloth

Tart of the Pacific

Note: If you like it tangier (aka more vinegary), add more shrub and less ginger ale.

12 Ounces Ginger Ale
4 Ounces Kiwi Shrub
1 Ounce (2 Tablespoons) Toasted Coconut Simple Syrup
3 Ounces Spiced Rum



Kiwi Shrub


Peel the kiwis using this spoon technique and cut them into quarters. Toss the kiwi quarters in a large bowl with the sugar until coated. Cover and leave the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour, then come back and macerate the mixture, cover it again, and refrigerate it overnight. The next day the mixture should look like it is surrounded in a syrup and most of the sugar granules should be dissolved.




Strain the fruit pieces out through a mesh colander and keep the syrup. Some of the sugar will settle to the bottom of the syrup, and that is fine (once the syrup is mixed with the vinegar the acidic qualities of the vinegar will dissolve the sugar over a short period of time).

 Add the vinegar to the syrup, pour into a sterilized jar, screw on the cap, and shake vigorously. Place it in the refrigerator and give it a good shake once a day for a week. You can let it sit like this for up to 4 weeks to allow the flavors to meld further. Once you're ready to use it, give it a final strain through a sheet of clean cheesecloth to remove any small seeds and pulp from the shrub. 


Your shrub syrup is now ready to use! Feel free to mix it with water, sparkling beverages, juice, or cocktails. Make sure to keep your shrub syrup covered and refrigerated when not in use.

Makes about 2 cups of kiwi shrub syrup.


 .

Toasted Coconut Simple Syrup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and break the coconut open. The method I found that worked best for opening the coconut was to hit the it repeatedly really hard with the back of a knife. It sounds crazy, but you can see this guy explaining/doing it here. He is much larger and more muscular than I am and was able to do it in two strokes, whereas it took me about 2 dozen flurries of whacking to get it to crack open all the way, but it works! Just make sure you do it over a bowl so the milk has somewhere to drip once it pops open.


The next step is to empty the milk out of the coconut and place the coconut halves/pieces on a baking sheet, white side up, and place it in the oven. Allow it to bake for 20 minutes, then remove and cool to room temperature. Once the coconut has cooled, you should be able to see that it has separated from the shell a bit around parts of the edges. Use a metal spoon to pry the white pulp off the shell. The pulp will still have a brown coating on the back, and this can be peeled off with a vegetable peeler.

Once the coconut pulp is removed and peeled, cut it into 1-inch chunks and place it in a bowl with the turbinado sugar and water and mix well. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until pulpy, but not entirely smooth. Pour the mixture into a canning jar, screw on the lid, and place it in the refrigerator. Shake once a day for a week. Then filter out the coconut pulp through a mesh colander.


Give the syrup another filtration through a piece of cheesecloth just to get any remaining fine bits of coconut pulp out. Your toasted coconut syrup is ready for use! Make sure to keep your syrup covered and refrigerated when it's not in use.

Makes roughly 3/4 cup toasted coconut simple syrup.



Tart of the Pacific


Stir together the toasted coconut simple syrup, rum, and ginger ale until combined. Then quickly stir in the kiwi shrub and serve.




43 comments:

  1. OMGahhhh!! (Sorry, I just downed two cups of coffee and I'm feeling extra jazzed.) But holy cow. First, thank you so much for the shout out! Second, the shrub and the syrup and the cocktail all sound amazing! Kiwis are one of those fruits that I love the flavor of, but just can't get past the texture. Making a shrub from them is such a great idea. And I can only imagine how good it is with toasted coconut syrup (which sounds ridiculously awesome) + rum + ginger ale. Third, these pictures are crazy gorgeous. Fourth, hurray for the giveaway! Yay! :D

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  2. A while back I saw a shrub on a friend of mine's blog and was so intrigued. I have yet to try one, but they're definitely in my future. And this toasted coconut simple syrup - YOWZA! It looks beyond words. Now, I need a copy of this book...I have a nice spot for it on top of my (soon-to-be) liquor cabinet ;). My absolute favorite cocktail is a Cherry Basil Collins (hurry up summer!).

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  3. Favorite cocktail? I've just discovered ginger eau de vie, and am currently trying it in everything. Yum. Now, I think I will make your toasted coconut syrup and try something with the two together.

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    1. what's ginger eau de vie? sounds terrific!

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  4. I don't know if I could pick just one favorite cocktail...but I'm a big fan of gin with lots of herbal, aromatic things added to it. Heather's Cherry Basil Collins sounds delicious, too!

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    1. Christina, if you like aromatic and herbal things, try celery leaf. It's an amazing herb, pairs perfectly with gin, and so readily available. It's a shame most people just throw it out.

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  5. I love these simple syrup recipes. My fav is the coconut toasted. I will add it to fresh pineapple juice. Yummy!!

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  6. Simple syrups are such a welcome addition. Thanks for these...can't wait to try them!

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  7. My absolute favorite cocktail is a mojito, although recently I've discovered the deliciousness of Jameson and ginger ale.

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  8. This looks great! I definitely need to try making a shrub syrup once the weather warms up here. My favorite cocktail of late is a classic Manhattan with a little Ginger Beer floated on top.

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    1. Kristine,

      Ginger beer + manhattan? sounds very cool, a smart spin on a classic for the summer months.

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  9. Ooh, I knew I should have gotten some kiwis at the farmer's market this morning! This looks and sounds fantastic. I've been hearing about shrubs for a while too, but have never tried making my own yet--clearly that has to change. My favorite cocktails are all pretty classic--lately it's the Fitzgerald, which is just a gin sour punched up with bitters. Clean and refreshing. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

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  10. I love a white grape martini!

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  11. i'm more of a wine drinker but if i by any chance won the book it would perhaps open the cocktail world up for me.

    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

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  12. Off to the market and spirits store I go! These sound fabulous, thank you for so much inspiration!

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  13. i love blackberry juice and gin with a hint of basil. yummy!

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  14. i love blackberry juice and gin with a hint of basil. yummy!

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  15. Hard to pick a favorite cocktail! Negroni, Manhattan, G&T, or maybe the Last Word? They're all winners in my book!

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    Replies
    1. Erin, have you ever tried making your own tonic?

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  16. I like to read old books and historical tales. Shrubs would show up in the stories and I always wondered what they were. I'm going to try these when the weather warms (still a distant event here in the Puget Sound area. Brr.) Blueberry Tea is a favorite warm drink - strong black tea, tsp sugar, jigger each of Amaretto and Grand Marnier (or triple sec), and a slice of lemon. Hot diggety. The Merchant Cafe in Seattle shared the recipe with us years ago. The drink's name is shrouded in mystery: why Blueberry? Nobody knows. . .

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  17. Gin and Tonic is the perfect drink at any time.

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    Replies
    1. Hannah, totally agreed. What's your favorite gin and favorite tonic?

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  18. Wish I could say cocktails are a go, but I just haven't found one to really get into. I will also defer to a big red.

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  19. I totally am going to need to try this kiwi shrub. It sounds amazing!

    My favorite cocktail is a good ol' gin and tonic with a squeeze of fresh lime.

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  20. This sounds delectable! I love anything with ginger in it, and have been meaning to try shrubs ever since I read them on Reclaiming Provincial (also, thanks for your bitters posts! I just finished my first batch a week ago - inspiring!). Favorite cocktail as of late is a G&T with Right gin - tastes like grapefruits and white pepper, which was delicious as grapefruits were hitting their peak.

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    1. I've always thought grapefruit had a yeasty, bready taste and as soon as I read "white pepper," the connections started sparking in my head. I bet a pepper-and-grapefruit shrub would be mighty tasty...

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    2. Mmm that sounds like it would be delectable. Great idea!

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  21. I love homemade mango margaritas.

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  22. Hello, I log on to your blog daily. Your humoristic style
    is awesome, keep doing what you're doing!

    my website; Ros25e4yfo.wiki.zoho.com

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  23. Love your post. My favorite cocktails are tiki cocktails. I thought your post was a great take on one. So fun to read about projects like this from people who have time to accomplish them!

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    1. Laura,

      Tiki drinks are totally amazing. I just went to Hogo in DC, a dedicated rum bar with lots of great tiki drinks (though you wouldn't know it from the decor). I'd definitely recommend a visit if you're ever in town.

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  24. This is the line best represents me :"If you are even slightly curious about making cocktails"
    I am both curious and clueless when it comes to do a nice cocktail. I'm pretty sure I will enjoy this book :)
    Great post, thanks!

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  25. My favorite cocktail is the classic Old Fashioned :)

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  26. This sounds SO stinking good! my all time favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned. But come summertime I can't get enough homemade margaritas!

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  27. Wow!!! Love it! My favorite cocktail is muddled basil with simple syrup, vodka & grapefruit juice. Got the recipe from my cousin from Charleston last summer & I can't stop having it.

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  28. My favorite cocktail is and will always be Gin and Tonic with rosemary. Can't get enough :)

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  29. How awesome!! Clearly I need to get my hands on this book :) I LOVE kiwi and that cocktail looks amazing. My fave new cocktail is the one I just made with fresh grapefruit juice, grapefruit vodka, and grapefruit seltzer :)

    Sues

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  30. Beautiful site - beautiful pics and blog. I'm just starting out, you are inspiring!

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  31. gotta love sidecars

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  32. Tomorrow is my (golden) 21st birthday! I am excited to make and try lots of new cocktails, this book would be a great start. I haven't found my favorite cocktail yet, but this tropical cocktail looks like it might be a contender...

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  33. Great looking recipes! Any reason not to substitute the coconut water inside for the water called for in the simple syrup (and making up the difference with water)? Perhaps it would just lend to a more intense coconut flavor. I guess an experiment is in order. Shout out to Kevin Liu for the great cocktail book. I've been devouring it.

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