Fennel-Apple-Rhubarb Shrub & The Summer Breeze

Fennel-Apple-Rhubarb Shrub

So just in case any of you were worried that last year’s shrub-stravaganza was a fleeting obsession, allow me to assure you that it was, so most definitely, not. I’ve been branching out in weird directions this summer, and the results have been mixed thus far. (There’s currently a cantaloupe + champagne vinegar shrub steeping in my pantry that smells……funky. Like musky melon funky. And a fig + balsamic shrub sounded amazing in theory, but the actual execution would have best involved me living in a place where I can get fresh, ripe figs, not strange unripe ones shipped from god knows where. I still have hopes for both of these, but not high ones.) This fennel-apple-rhubarb shrub, however, is a different story.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Balsamic Shrub

When you hear the phrase “drinking vinegar,” what comes to mind? Weird old-timey medicine? Something gross you’d drink if you were doing some sort of “cleanse”? It’s vinegar. And you drink it. That doesn’t sound delicious at all.

I decided to make a shrub purely out of curiosity. I had a bunch of strawberries and rhubarb leftover from making ice cream, and my eye on this post for a while now. I wanted to try it and I wanted to like it, but deep down, I was worried I’d hate it. It would be too vinegary for me, and I’d feel like a wimp. I’d wind up putting it in smoothies or trying to dilute it with seltzer and/or booze, all the while lamenting the waste of expensive balsamic. But now that I’ve finally tried it, I can honestly say that I don’t like it. I LOVE it.

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Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Ice Cream

Few things make me happier than the arrival of rhubarb season. Once I see it making an appearance at farmers’ markets and on store shelves, I know that winter really, truly is over. But even more exciting than the symbolic significance those strange red stalks hold is their amazing flavor — a unique tartness that plays well with others, like strawberries, citrus, and ginger. It’s darn tasty, and so versatile. It’s the pumpkin of the spring! And while the pumpkin supply is practically endless during fall in the northeast, rhubarb season seems to vanish all too quickly. And that is why I’ve developed a method for making sure I get my fill of rhubarb each year: If I see it, I buy it. And I buy most of it. The first day it showed up at the store, I’d stuffed about half of the pile in a bag when I realized people were waiting for me to quit being such a hog and get out of the way. The next week, no one was around, so I took all but three puny stalks. Yeah, I’m that jerk.

Looking through my archives, you wouldn’t really pick up on my rhubarb obsession. That, I’m sorry to say, is due to the fact that everything gets eaten before I have a chance to photograph it. Pies, sodas, fruit leather — it’s all gone. We ate it all. But I saved you some ice cream! Wasn’t that nice of me?

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