Pear Vanilla Shrub & Party Pictures
We jump-started the upcoming holidays this last weekend at the Grow Local Kitchen. If you haven’t been there, you need to visit this marvelous place located in the expansive Nashville Farmers Market. I partnered with Rebecca Wood – old friend, baker par excellence, and Studio Mama of South Ground in Nashville. We offered baking and preserving ideas that’ll work for all the celebrations we expect to have over the next two months. And we shared ideas for gifting these items as well.
Our theme focused around pears (seasonal, of course) and vanilla and bourbon – used in some way in all our dishes. Rebecca shared the easy and delicious art of making shortbread. The decorative molds she uses leave such an appealing design, don’t you think? And shortbread is versatile enough to make into so many shapes for entertaining or gifting. Then pair with various toppings such as the Pear Vanilla Butter we made that evening as well.
Rebecca also helped everyone make up their own bottle of vanilla extract – so simple and so good. This is something easily keep in your pantry for months and years to come!
One of the fun new things we did this time was make and share Pear Vanilla Shrub. After sharing the history of how they’ve been a six-century way to preserve fruits in vinegar, we encouraged everyone to make up their own combo. This pear shrub is made with pears, vinegar, sugar and vanilla. And it pairs beautifully with cranberry and pomegranate juice, various liquors such as bourbon and rum – or keeping it simple with soda or plain water.
Because our palates aren’t used to using vinegar in drinks, the best way is to start out with about 1 ounce of the shrub, mix with preferred liquids and sample. Then add more sugar if you wish – I made up simple syrup for ease of use – and go from there. Everyone found a combination that pleased them – some preferring the sweet-sour combos, others enjoying a boozy mixture with the Bellemeade Bourbon offered by good friends, Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery. Dating back to the 1800’s, you can read about this family’ business history here.
Pear Vanilla Shrub
Makes about 1 quart
2 lb. ripe Pears, quartered and cored (no need to peel) – about 6-7 pears
2 cups Organic Sugar (I used Organic Raw Sugar)
1 Vanilla Bean, split in two
2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh or bottled lemon juice
Place the pears in a small saucepan with about ½ cup water. Cook til pears are soft; then puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Stir in sugar, vanilla bean and lemon juice, and cook over low simmer until sugar is incorporated.
Pour into 1 gallon jar, and put in cool place to macerate for 24-48 hours. After maceration is complete, add vinegar and store in cool, dark place for 7-10 days. Give the jar a vigorous shake each day to mix up the ingredients.
At this point, strain the shrub by pouring into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and removing most of the liquid with the back of a spoon. Then pour the strained liquid back into the bottle.
How to use? Mix about 1 ounce of the shrub per glass, then fill with soda or water and ice. Adjust the proportions to suit your own taste, adding more sweetener if desired (you can use honey if preferred at this step). Options: Mix with pomegranate or cranberry juice as a mixer. For a boozy drink, mix with rum or vodka (about 1 oz per glass). Store the shrub in a cool dark place. Refrigeration is fine too. It will last months (if you have it that long!).