Nancie McDermott’s Strawberry Shrub

The best part of food blogging is the community.  I am lucky to be acquainted with prolific cookbook author Nancie McDermott, who has written a range of cookbooks specializing in the food of Thailand, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer, and the food of the South, where she resides.  Nancie has been doing daily Facebook Live cooking videos during the pandemic, and I feel very lucky when I can catch one– she’s lively, warm and natural.  The most recent video I was able to watch came at just the right time, on an unseasonably hot day and when I had a few past prime strawberries in the refrigerator.  (Watch Nancie make this recipe in her live video. This recipe comes from her cookbook, Fruit, UNC Press, 2017.)

Strawberry shrub is an old Southern favorite made of equal parts of just three ingredients: strawberries, sugar, and vinegar.  You can use other berries or fruit as a substitution, depending on what you have, but the ruby hue of the strawberry shrub is just gorgeous.  Nancie used apple cider vinegar in her recipe, but you could substitute white or another mild vinegar.  The process is simple: you slice the fruit to increase surface area, then quick pickle them overnight in hot vinegar.  After straining out the solids (which, despite my mission to reduce food waste, you do not want to eat, they become so.tart.), you boil with sugar to make a simple syrup.  After that cools, you can use it to flavor sparkling or still water, lemonade, or cocktails.  This is all to taste, but I found that a tablespoon was a good amount to use, to be topped with ice and sparkling water.  This makes for a beautiful and refreshing special drink on a hot day. Cheers! And thank you, Nancie, for something new to try and enjoy, and for your positivity and generosity!

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