I’m not much of a baker so my favorite ways at “exhaust”A dish or two of berries usually involves eat them with heavy cream not whipped or extract their juice with a whole bunch of sugar, then make a shrub (also known as ‘drinking vinegar’) from this syrup coated in bright colors.
I usually use a ratio of 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of vinegar for every pound of fruit, but yesterday I added a pinch of salt to my Hood strawberry shrub and discovered it was immediately improved. It is not that the shrub displeases in its unsalted state. It was everything it was meant to be—very sour and very sweet, fantastic when diluted with a tall glass of cold seltzer water (or sparkling wine, which I loved it was yesterday afternoon).
This pinch of salt did not diminish the sweetness of the berries of the shrub. or attenuate its acidic luminosity. He just did what salt does best: It tempered the more cloying qualities of the sugar and calmed some of the harsh, sour bite of the vinegar, pushing the strawberry – which is the star, after all – to the fore.
The only thing that I surprising is that I didn’t think about doing it earlier. Add salt to drinks– especially during the summer months – is a devoted practice here at Lifehacker. Salt is the great rounder of flavor, the powerful creator of contrasts – salt brings out the best in food, making it taste like itself.
The amount of salt your shrub needs depends on the fruit involved and how much vinegar you add. I always start with a pound of berries, mix it with 2 cups of sugar (in this case 1 cup of white and 1 cup of brown), let sit for a few days, then strain and measure the syrupy juices. I then throw in about half of that volume of vinegar, taste and add more if needed. Once I have the the acidity has entered, I will now add a pinch of salt, stir, taste and repeat until the shrub tastes better, but not downright salty. If that sounds vague, don’t worry. You’ll know it when you reach this “better but not salty” spot, as you’ll find yourself reaching for the seltzer (or sparkling, depending on the time of day).