Apple Spice and Everything Nice

It seems like the spices of the season have us thinking of warmth and comfort. So it's no surprise that I'd suggest a customizable drinking vinegar (or shrub) for your holiday entertaining that features a simple blend of your favorite apples and cinnamon. Use it to pep up everything from mulled cider to your favorite fall cocktails:

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Since this is such a simple recipe that takes more patience than skill, I recommend focusing on what can be customized in this mixture: the apples. You'll note that the recipe calls for three apples. I highly recommend choosing your varieties to suit what you want in your final product. Want something a bit tangy? Granny smith apples are perfect. Sweeter varieties like MacIntosh or Cameo will bring that flavor with them. Mix and match for flavors all your own. Be certain to avoid adding the seeds (though do include the peels) and understand that the juicier the varieties of apples you choose, the better depth of flavor your shrub will have.

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One of my favorite ways to enjoy this shrub is splashed into a mug with equal parts apple cider and hard cider. But don't assume you can only use it for drinks. Try mixing a bit into your favorite pancake syrup or sauce or drizzling it over pound cake for a tangy treat. I've even been known to thicken it a little and pour it over ice cream at the end of a meal. Oh — and it makes for a a fantastic gift too!

Apple-Cinnamon Shrub

  • 3 apples - cored & grated
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks - broken into 2-inch pieces

Combine all of the ingredients in a large, resealable jar. Allow the mixture to soak for 2-3 days in fridge, carefully turning and shaking it in the morning and at night.

Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and store the resulting liquid in the refrigerator for at least another 4-5 days before using. To use, simply replace lemon or lime juice in your favorite drink recipes with the shrub for a festive touch. Also fantastic splashed in warm apple cider. Makes a lovely homemade gift in festive bottles.

  • Yields: 1/2 quart
  • Preparation Time: About a week