Like wine or beer or hard cider, there are many ways to create the final product. Some take short cuts to speed the shrub production process, others use a recombination method by mixing in a tank and bottling. Like these distant cousins of fermentology, shrubs also can be crafted or shorted as it were. Finger Lakes Harvest takes a more primitive and artisanal approach when it comes to shrub production which takes time, patience, and a bit of cleverness to make the shrubs sing. For the record we do not use juice, concentrates, powders, our apple cider vinegar (ACV) is barrel fermented and the organic cane sugar is the least processed large crystal cane sugar available in the US market. Very similar to what was available in the 1700’s.
For our shrubs we start with whole fruit, most times its frozen to allow for cell rupture and then processed in to a batch of liquid containing organically grown apple cider vinegar, and organic large crystal cane sugar. Some water is added to offset evaporation while is rests in the barrels, buckets and tanks.
Depending on the fruit, some will fettle (the resting stage) in days most take weeks, and some take months. We then gravity filter out most of the extracted solids, leaving some for body, flavor and added nutrients. A short resting period follows checking Ph the whole way. Its off to the bottles when ready. There are many more steps that I cannot list here but that is the essence of the process. It is decidedly similar to the way they did it 320 years ago in this country. As we say around the shrubbery, “whats in your bottle?”
The picture provided is an experimental batch of three heirloom varieties of Finger Lakes grapes in the first fettling tank.