The Bojon Gourmet has a lavender kumquat shrub recipe in the archives that looked so nice to me... I always have lavender available to make tea (love, love, love lavender, lavender as tea of course, lavender in caramels/syrup/shortbread/ganache/whatever sweets, lavender kombucha is my go-to for that beverage ...). All I really needed was more kumquats. I’ve been buying them and snacking on them- slightly sour and bitter little citrus eaten whole. So, I took my Saturday morning walk to the market, hoping one of the organic farmers might have some, but there were NO kumquats to be found at any of the booths.
Lots of other citrus was piled high though: many mandarins, navel oranges, tangelos, grapefruit, Eureka lemons, Meyer lemons, sweet limes... So I decided to go with blood oranges instead, with their deep red interiors, blush of red on the orange skin, and fruit punchy-orange flavor.
With a few changes, this would be my adaptation.
I’ve kept the Meyer lemon juice (sweeter, fruity and less acidic than regular lemons), and upped the vinegar and lavender.
(By the way, recently I read an interesting article on some of the Meyer lemon history- more specifically about Meyer... Dutch transplant and Marco Polo/Indiana Jones of the USDA.)
When it's finished, shrub is great for mixing into a drink (ice cold sparkling water or maybe some vodka... or a bit of both... maybe champagne or sparkling wine...) though sipping a shot of just the fruit infused vinegar is also kind of nice (honestly, at the very least for this particular version, I think sipping it neat is my preference).
And why wouldn’t that citrus, honey, and apple cider vinegar combination also be good for you- especially end of winter or beginning of spring?
Citrus, with its vitamin C, local honey for allergy-fighting purposes (due to the inclusion of small amounts of the regional agricultural allergens, it kind of inoculates you), cider vinegar with many reputed benefits- though right now we’ll go with probiotics via fermentation from the raw and unpasturized organic version.
(And this would be my reason for opting for a marinating method instead of one involving heat- my hopes of keeping any good stuff going.)
The taste is tart and sweet, fruity... there's a slight spiciness from the vinegar, with a bit of a perfumed finish that you may not be able to quite identify.
Citrus is best organic or pesticide free here (and always, actually) as you use the whole fruit, but at the very least make sure you wash it before cutting, please.
And as a little side note, Mom used to make blackberry and elderberry shrub many years ago and we thought it wasn’t that great- mostly it was just plain weird. She’d say something like, “Come on guys, THIS is what they drank before soda!”
Not that we were soda drinkers at our house, we didn’t really have it around, but maybe that was supposed to lend some draw and mystique. Needless to say, we weren't all that impressed.
But yes, it was a Colonial form of fruit preservation. "Shrub" even sounds Colonial.
(Though I'd bet sparkling water, if it even existed in Colonial America, if it was "manufactured" or imported somehow, likely wasn't available to everyone. It was invented/discovered in 1767 by an English chemist named Joseph Priestly- who also invented the eraser. It's better with sparkling water than still- I think we only had it with still water those many years ago.)
Anyway, sorry Mom, I like it now.
And I'll likely be experimenting with more.
Blood Orange-Lavender Shrub
makes about 3 cups (750 ml)
1 slightly generous lb (1/2 kilo) blood oranges (better, likely juicer, if they feel heavy for their size)
1 1/4 c (300 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 cup (240 ml) mild local honey
1/2 c (120 ml) Meyer lemon juice
1/4 c (8 g) dried lavender buds (food grade)
Remove a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange, to get rid of that extra bit of pith. Cut the blood oranges in half, pole to pole, then slice thinly and add to a clean, large glass jar (at least a quart, though more space would make things easier). Add the vinegar, honey, Meyer lemon juice, and lavender. Muddle everything together well with a very clean wooden spoon to dissolve the honey and extract juice and oils from the pieces of blood orange. Cover tightly and let the mixture sit 2-3 days (perhaps tasting it after the second day), shaking it at least once daily, giving it a good jostle to redistribute everything. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, moderately pressing on the orange peels to extract as more of the liquid, and pour the mixture into a clean jar and refrigerate. Use as desired.
The finished shrub should last several weeks refrigerated.
*Shrub can also be used as a marinade for meats, as part of a sauce for finishing, or in a vinaigrette.