While fruit-based shrubs delight the palate, their vegetable counterparts are so rare as to be almost non-existent. That’s too bad. In a recipe like this one that we adapted from Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails, and Elixirs by Warren Bobrow, the natural sweetness of carrot, fennel, and parsnip are given center-stage. How they shine in that spotlight. Encore!
The long, slow infusion time hearkens back to the patience of root vegetables themselves. They work a special kind of magic, transforming sunshine on green leaves into sweetness underground. Brought to the surface, scoured with sugar and soaked in vinegar, they come into their own. Fennel and subtle spice accents provide grace notes.
Prepare the vegetables. Wash the vegetables well, and slice them into thin coins.
Place the mixed vegetables in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle the sugar over them and mix well.
Cover the mixture and let it macerate at cool room temperatures for 2-3 days.
Transfer the vegetables and their sugary liquid to a half gallon jar.
Add the herbs, and nutmeg. Pour the red wine vinegar over the mixture to cover.
Place a piece of parchment between the lid and the jar before screwing on the top to avoid corrosion. Vinegar is acidic stuff! Screw on the lid.
Shake or stir until all remaining sugar crystals have dissolved. Allow to sit, covered, at cool room temperatures for 2-3 weeks, shaking often to release flavors.
After 2-3 weeks, strain out the solids.
Funnel the shrub into sterilized bottles or jars.
This shrub will keep in the fridge indefinitely, becoming rounder and more mellow as it ages.
Pair it with Aquavit, or gin for a delicate, spritely, vegetal cocktail. Or splash a bit into honeyed lemonade for a non-alcoholic delight.
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