Raspberry Shrub with Lemon Verbena and Rose Geranium

The weather is hotting up again and raspberries are in season, so here’s a summer shrub (aka drinking vinegar) recipe for some zingy refreshment. It’s a sweet/sour syrup you can mix with sparkling water (like a cordial) or add to cocktails. (See also my Gorse Flower Shrub on the blog for more history on these drinks). I use raw apple cider vinegar with mine to get good probiotic benefits. I also use unrefined, organic sugar from Billington’s. I’m pretty much sugar free, but figure I am only consuming a small amount here mixed with water and the benefits of the fruit, herbs and vinegar are plenty.

Lemon Verbena and Rose Geranium ‘Attar of Roses’ are two of my favourite herbs to grow at home. Worth having in pots by your door or window to simply rub your hands over daily - the smells are heavenly! Neither herbs are winter hardy so you will need to cut back and bring indoors before the frosts begin. You won’t find them in shops so if you don’t have access to them then substitute with mint. It works really well too.

 
Raspberry Shrub with Lemon Verbena and Rose Geranium

Raspberry Shrub with Lemon Verbena and Rose Geranium

 

Cold press shrubs are more authentic where you simply muddle chopped fruit and sugar and let it sit covered, stirring each day for 2 or more days, before straining and adding vinegar to the fruit syrup. Try ratio of 500g fruit, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups vinegar. But always add vinegar to taste as you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with the tartness.

BUT…because I love using herbs in my shrubs, I prefer infusing the fruit in a sugary herbal tea, before straining and adding the vinegar as I think it gives better herbal flavour. This is the method used in this recipe.

At the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2018, I collaborated with master preserver Kylee from Newton and Pott on some grow your own/preserving demos. She introduced me to a blackcurrant and lemon verbena shrub which can be found here https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/blackcurrant-lemon-verbena-shrub.

My recipe is adapted from hers using a different method.

 
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Recipe

Raspberry Shrub with Lemon Verbena and Rose Geranium

 
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Ingredients

Makes approx 1 L

600g Raspberries

Handful Lemon Verbena sprigs (4 tbsp leaves if you want to be exact)

Handful Rose Geranium Leaves (4 tbsp leaves if you want to be exact)

(if neither of these herbs are available use 4 tbsp Mint)

300g Unrefined Sugar

400ml Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (or less – will depend on your taste buds)

Sparkling Water

 Method

1.     Sterilise a large glass kilner jar and add the raspberries. In a separate pan make a herbal tea infusion. Bring 500ml of water to the boil. Remove from heat, add lemon verbena, rose geranium leaves and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Cover with lid. Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Pour over the raspberries, stir and leave to cool. Cover with lid and put in fridge. Shake everyday for a minimum of 5 days to macerate the fruit.

2.     Now the fruit has combined into the herby syrup, strain it out through a muslin-lined sieve into another glass jar or bowl. Discard the fruit to your compost. Add vinegar bit by bit according to your taste. You should be able to taste it but not have it overpowering the fruit and herbs. Pour through a funnel into a 1L glass bottle or jar.

3.     Store in fridge and serve as you would cordial with sparkling water, ice and a herb sprig to garnish. For a boozey hit add a glug of gin. I’ve kept mine in the fridge for up to a month in the past but I normally drink it all in first few weeks! It isn’t a fermented drink, although the vinegar is alive and full of probiotics. So it shouldn’t start to ferment or bubble, or grow any kind of mould…if so then discard.

4.     If you want a longer shelf life of up to 4 months, you could heat the vinegar and syrup together at final stage before bottling. However, then you will loose some of the probiotic benefits in the vinegar.