Once August has arrived, I’m ready to pounce all over the stone fruits in the market, especially those sweet Niagara peaches. There is no other produce quite so aromatic as a ripe peach, its sweet scent drifting through the breeze (if we should be so lucky to even HAVE a breeze, it’s been so damn hot) as you walk from stall to stall. And who doesn’t look forward to standing over the sink as you bite into a mega ripe peach, knowing that the juice will dribble down your face and arms and that you have zero control over it.
Now that we are reaching the end of August, I’ve now indulged in my fair share of over-the-sink peaches, as well as added them to pies, salads, granola + yogurt, you name it. I ventured away from my usual peach-scapades this year by making a cocktail. This isn’t something I normally do as a) cocktails seem complicated and I’m quite lazy, and b) we have beer on tap in our fridge downstairs now.. (yes, seriously). However, this shrub was super easy to make, it just takes a little time, and now I have this delicious syrup in my fridge for whenever the drink bell tolls.
I was specifically interested in shrubs because the purpose of them is to preserve fruit in the sugar/vinegar solution for the off-season, and we are majorly on the preserving bandwagon in this house. This method of preserving fell out of popularity with the advent of refrigeration, but the sweet/sour syrup has made a comeback in restaurants and bars in recent years.
I found the sumac cordial a couple months ago when we were traipsing through the county. I loved the idea of the lemon-y sumac cordial but couldn’t decide what to do with it, so it has sat in my cupboard for that time. I saw the cordial in my cupboard recently, peaches in my fridge, and thought “Ah what the hell, why not.” And here we stand.
peach sumac shrub cocktail
makes about 2 cups of shrub syrup; cocktail recipe is for one serving
1 pound ripe peaches
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried sumac
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
handful of ice
2 oz shrub syrup
3 – 3 1/2 oz club soda
1 1/2 oz gin
1 tablespoon sumac cordial (optional)
herbs to garnish (lemon balm, mint)
Clean a one quart mason jar and lid in hot soapy water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and submerge the jar for 10 minutes, adding the lid in for the last minute to sanitize everything.
Cut/core peaches, toss with sugar in the mason jar, cover and refrigerate for one day. The next day, add the vinegar, swirl it around to mix it, and refrigerate for seven days. Set a strainer in a glass bowl, pour peaches through and press to extract all the liquid. Keep in a clean jar in the fridge for probably a month.
I don’t have any fancy drink technique, I just put my glass on my scale and weighed out all the ingredients, add a couple slices of frozen peach and wabam, my new favourite fancyish lady drink.
I feel like maybe you could make a chutney with the leftover peaches..? I haven’t tried, but it seems possible, maybe.
I made the cordial an optional ingredient since it’s not exactly something you come across at the grocery store, but I tried the drink with and without it and it’s delicious either way. If you want to up the sumac flavour a bit, you can just add a bit more of the dried stuff.
While the vinegar helps to preserve the fruit, there is still a possibility of bacterial growth; make sure all the tools you are using are cleaned and sanitized.