We’re not really a fruit household. I mean, there’s Brian’s banana-a-day habit and my endless juicing of lemons, but aside from that, it’s the rare apple or lime that crosses our threshold; like cakes and cookies, the sweets just don’t carry much traction. Give us brussels spouts or give us broccoli, but please hold the peaches, pineapples, and grapes.
Still, even a hardhearted Team Savory fan such as myself could not resist the loveliness that was the first market strawberries of the Maryland season. And when my friend Marie helpfully prompted that I could “totally put a couple in a salad,” my defenses were crushed.
At home, I did indeed find a way to work them into an arugula salad with a tangy herbed buttermilk dressing. But I also got to thinking about that colonial fruit preservation method known as the shrub. I’d kept a jar of this vinegar-laced syrup a couple summers back and put it to good use in generous glasses of seltzer (yes, my homemade seltzer contraption is still going strong!). Perhaps it was time to make some more? Yes, yes indeed.
Strawberry Salad with Herbed Buttermilk Dressing
2 generous handfulls of baby arugula, spinach, or greens of your choice
For the dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 T white Balsamic vinegar
1 T fresh chopped basil or dill (or a mix)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all dressing ingredients.
Rinse the greens (if necessary) and hull and slice the strawberries. Plate and drizzle with the dressing.
The Strawberry Shrub
After some internet research and reflection, I decided to go with the 1:1:1 ratio of fruit:sugar:vinegar. I macerated the fruit with the sugar (now that is a satisfying feeling) and left the mixture to sit for 24 hours. At that point, I added a cup of apple cider vinegar and will now mind it, shaking daily, for seven days. Then it’s strain and refrigerate until needed. Here is a helpful post, if you’re looking for more detailed background and instructions. The last time I did this, I worked in the reverse order, first infusing the vinegar and then cooking in the sugar. So we shall see how this new experiment compares.