*This Black Cherry, Cardamom, & Vanilla Shrub is free of refined sugars and is a sweet and sophisticated fizzy little summery sip of a drink. Dark, sweet cherries are a must use for this recipe!
Ever since discovering shrubs (see this post), I’ve been waiting for cherry season to hit so that I could make a fresh cherry shrub. When the cherries on my trees started to ripen, I quickly gathered up a basket-full and went to town. Well. That was a mistake. I learned a very important lesson from my first batch of shrub syrup, made from the sweet/sour light red cherries of my backyard tree: Backyard Cherry Tree Cherries are NOT GOOD for making shrubs with. The syrup was too sour and since the insides of the cherries were more yellow than red, the syrup turned out to have an icky light brown color to it. I don’t think my disposal enjoyed that shrub syrup anymore than I did.
So, with one failed batch of shrub syrup down I tried again and put my newfound knowledge to use. This time I bought a bag of super dark, incredibly sweet, juicy Bing cherries. The end result was just as I’d hoped: Sweet, tangy, spicy, with mellow vanilla notes. I added a vanilla bean and a few cardamom pods to the cherries and sugar, let it sit for a few days, then lightly blended and strained the mix. I added a mix of apple cider and balsamic vinegars to the syrup and let it sit for another few days in the fridge. The balsamic vinegar deepens the cherry flavor and adds a tangy richness to the overall drink.
A few notes:
*DO find Bing cherries for this shrub. Other varieties won’t have the right amount of sweetness to carry the acidic flavors.
*After letting the fruit syrup develop, you can simply press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve as is, or you can process it first in a food processor or blender, and then run it through a sieve. I like the latter method as it extracts more flavor, gives more body to the syrup due to making the syrup thicker, and gives you more syrup overall.
- 4 cups Cherries (use a dark, sweet variety such as Bing), pitted
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split in half
- 2 cardamom pods, seeds removed (discard pods)
- 1 cup Unrefined Cane Sugar
- ½ cup Raw Honey
- ½ cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- Sparkling Water
- Place the cherries, vanilla bean halves, and cardamom seeds in a large jar. Add the sugar and mash in with the cherries using a muddler or wooden spoon. Place in the fridge and let sit for 2 days, shaking occasionally to help dissolve sugars. After two days, pour the mixture into a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to strain out the fruit syrup (alternatively, you can blend the whole mixture and then strain it through a sieve to get the most fruit and flavor out of it). Place the syrup back in a jar and mix with the honey and vinegars. Place back in the fridge for 5-7 days. Shake syrup before using.
- Mix 1 part syrup to 4 parts sparkling water and pour over ice. You may like more or less syrup, depending on your preferences.