Triple Citrus Shrub

Triple Citrus Shrub is a wonderful way to start your day. Fresh orange, lemon and grapefruit puree smartened up with raw apple cider vinegar for all its health benefits and a good glug of honey to sweeten up the proceedings.

Triple Citrus Shrub

I have been beginning every morning with a generous glass of Triple Citrus Shrub to help aid my digestion, provide me with the necessary vitamin c to ward off this ghastly flu that is doing the rounds and generally because it is pretty delicious.

If you are unfamiliar with a shrub, it is a specially brewed drinking vinegar. Originally produced to preserve the fruit juice of the season, they can also be made with alcohol instead of the vinegar, but that makes a very different kind of shrub that probably isn’t going to be your first choice to accompany your breakfast toast. The recipe can be pretty basic by just steeping together fruit, vinegar and sugar and if you have used enough vinegar and sugar it can keep for an absolute age in the fridge. Depending on how much you like the zingy vinegar taste you can dilute your shrub as much or as little as you like. I found that I started out diluting it a lot then got a little bit more generous in my fingers of shrub as I got more and more into it.

Triple Citrus Shrub

I mentioned at the top that I have been drinking my shrub to aid digestion and that’s because I have been really suffering with horrible acid reflux for the past couple of months of this pregnancy. I am trying to avoid drinking copious amounts of Gaviscon or bicarbonate of soda to ease it (as I did when I was pregnant with Cole) as it plays havoc with your gut and so I’m trying all sorts of natural remedies to counteract it instead. So far I’ve got off pretty lightly this pregnancy with my complaints (save the initial morning sickness) but this acid reflux is really getting me down as it’s making me dread eating or drinking since anything seems to be sparking it off.

Triple Citrus Shrub

So here comes the shrub. I had been drinking diluted apple cider vinegar in the mornings which among its many health benefits like reducing blood sugar levels is said to aid digestion. This is due to buying the raw unfiltered vinegar which contains the ‘mother’ which is a by-product of the fermentation process and contains lots of healthy proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria to help repair your gut. However, I had not been getting on so well with the apple cider vinegar as it seemed to be producing an initial heartburn which wasn’t pleasant. So when I found myself with copious amounts of orange, lemon and grapefruit flesh going begging as a result of my Homemade Mixed Peel I tried my hand at turning it into a very basic shrub to help the apple cider vinegar be ingested more pleasurably.

The experiment has been great. I am a great believer that if something is working for you then it works and don’t question it too closely. I am not by any means a nutritional therapist but I am feeling better drinking my shrub everyday, whether it’s the placebo effect or is actually doing something pretty beneficial to my gut is beyond my knowledge but it is delicious and you can’t knock the amount of vitamin c that the shrub contains and so far (touch wood!) I have yet to have a cold this winter.

Triple Citrus Shrub

I didn’t make my shrub in any traditional way as by the time I started properly investigating the recipe then I had already blitzed up all my fruit flesh in the blender and it was too late to steep the whole citrus segments in the vinegar which is what I learnt later I should have done. However, the method I did use was quick, easy and produced a shrub that was available to drink straightaway. All I did was blend the citrus flesh, boil up the puree with a good amount of honey, re-blend the sweetened fruit with the vinegar and pour it into a kilner jar to store in the fridge.

Triple Citrus Shrub

You can dilute the shrub any way you see fit. In the mornings I am happy with a quarter part shrub whisked in with three quarters cold water. However, I have also been finding in the evenings that if I mix the same amount of shrub with three quarters sparkling water then I have my very own healthy fancy cocktail. If I’m feeling especially exotic I have been known to add a sprig of mint in to really jazz it up.

Homemade shrubs are a favourite of mixologists at the moment as they can create really excitingly flavoured cocktails and I can totally see why with all the tangy sweet and sour notes going on. For now though, I can feel pretty saintly as I drink it. Talk to me in a few months though when I am free to glug a bit of gin into my shrub as well. Still perhaps, not at breakfast time.

Triple Citrus Shrub

Print Recipe
Triple Citrus Shrub
Triple Citrus Shrub is a wonderful way to start your day. Fresh orange, lemon and grapefruit puree smartened up with raw apple cider vinegar for all its health benefits and a good glug of honey to sweeten up the proceedings.
Triple Citrus Shrub
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1 litre
Ingredients
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 450 ml honey
  • 500 ml raw apple cider vinegar with the mother
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1 litre
Ingredients
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 450 ml honey
  • 500 ml raw apple cider vinegar with the mother
Triple Citrus Shrub
Instructions
  1. Carefully remove the peel, pith and seeds from the fruit until you are left with only the flesh.
  2. Place all the fruit flesh into a blender and blitz until smooth. You should have about 1 litre of fruit puree.
  3. Pour the fruit puree into a saucepan along with the honey, whisk them together and heat gently until boiling.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour back into the blender.
  5. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and blitz for a minute or so until mixed completely.
  6. Pour into a large jar and leave to cool then store in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

The shrub can be kept in the fridge for up to a month.

SHOP THE RECIPE

I think the reason I was so quick to blitz my fruit was because I’m always itching to use my Vitamix® Pro750 Food Blender, Copper UK Model which was a birthday present from Luke back in December. Words cannot express how much I love it, it’s my new kitchen baby. It makes the most deliciously smooth smoothies, healthy green soups and date purees for baking. I am in no way sponsored by Vitamix, I just love my new toy.

The apple cider vinegar I like is Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, 946ml which I used in this shrub, the Vinegar Cake I am posting about next week and every day uses like salad dressings and marinades. It’s very delicious and supposed to be very good for you too.

The Amazon links above are affiliate links which means if you click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. It’s just a way for me to fund my shopping list for the blog so if you do click through then many thanks!!

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel is so much more flavourful than supermarket bought. It isn’t as bitter and has a more fully rounded flavour that captures the essence of citrus season.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Until recently I didn’t use a lot of mixed peel in my baking. Instead if a recipe called for it I simply swapped in the zest of an orange and lemon or perhaps even a tablespoon of marmalade. That’s because mixed peel is one of the ingredients that Luke abhors. He can taste it a mile away so it has been useless to hide it within my fruit cakes as he would simply reject it upon first bite. He also knows which bakery adds mixed peel to their Eccles Cakes, his favourite treat, and takes his custom elsewhere. So mixed peel had been relegated from all baking in our household and substitutions relied upon instead.

Homemade Mixed Peel

What Is Mixed Peel?

Mixed peel is one of those ingredients that is featured in a lot of British baking, from traditional fruit cakes like Dundee Cake or Christmas Cake to tea time fare like the aforementioned Eccles Cakes or Hot Cross Buns. Mixed peel is basically candied lemon and orange peel. Eighteenth century bakers knew that the most intense flavour of any citrus fruit is derived from the peel. So intent on capturing as much flavour as possible in their recipes and mindful of preserving since fresh fruit was scarce, the peel was candied, dried and stored until needed. These traditional recipes are now the backbone of British baking so mixed peel has been handed down to us in our grandmothers’ and great great grandmothers’ recipes often when dried fruit is called for.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Earlier this month I was recipe testing one of my Auntie Lil’s classic cakes, She was a bit of a baker and her Vinegar Cake, which was her traditional everyday fruit cake, was legendary. I have had the recipe tucked into my recipe file for years now and recently I have been attempting to recreate an authentic gluten-free version of her renowned cake. Auntie Lil’s recipe, like a lot of traditional fruit cakes, calls upon mixed peel as an ingredient. Since I wanted a result as near as the cake she baked for her young family I dutifully added mixed peel from the supermarket along with the other dried fruit it asked for. At first bite I couldn’t work out why the cake tasted so horribly bitter, there was almost a sourness that butted up against the soft plump sultanas and raisins which was distinctly and acidically unpleasant. It soon became apparent that in my enforced abstinence from mixed peel I too had developed a dislike for it.

Homemade Mixed Peel

But how could that be? I love citrus, I love the brightness of intense lemon and orange peel. There should be no reason why mixed peel doesn’t appeal to me too. But the supermarket stuff, when tasted by itself is just not that nice. So I set about making my own. And since I now had dominion over the mixed peel I added grapefruit peel as well to add a third dimension of citrus to the proceedings.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Homemade Mixed Peel

Much like my Homemade Glacé Cherries, when you make it yourself there is absolutely no comparison to the shop bought stuff. You could eat Homemade Mixed Peel by the spoonful. In fact since I made so much Cole and I have been dipping our hands into the jar and taking out small sticky handfuls at snack time as a little treat. Making Homemade Mixed Peel is a labour of love and requires about a week of soaking it in a sugar syrup, draining it from the liquid, boiling the sugar syrup down and re-soaking the peel multiple times. Although the really trying time comes after the mixed peel has been drained of the sugar syrup and then needs to dry in a sterile environment for about a week. I dried mine in my switched off oven but since I use my oven almost every day it has required a lot of patience not to bottle the peel earlier just to get it out of the way. I definitely need to invest in a dehydrator for this purpose. When I do I’ll make the recipe again and let you know how it goes.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Suffice to say that when it came time to recipe testing Auntie Lil’s Vinegar Cake with the Homemade Mixed Peel the results were pretty on the money. Gone was the nasty bitterness, instead the lovely fragrance of sharp citrus permeated the cake and sat comfortably alongside the rest of the ingredients. The recipe has been a triumph and I’ll be sharing it soon, so stay tuned. And as for Luke, he has conceded that if I were to start using Homemade Mixed Peel in my baking then that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Thumbs up indeed.

Homemade Mixed Peel

In the meantime if you are making this Homemade Mixed Peel you will find you have two delicious extra kitchen ingredients leftover from the recipe. You will have copious amounts of citrus flesh from the beginning step once you have peeled the fruit, and also the most beautiful citrus sugar syrup from the end step once you have drained the peel away from its soaking syrup. Do not throw either away. I’ll be posting a recipe for my Triple Citrus Shrub in the next few days to use up that citrus flesh and I’m working on a compendium of recipes to make the most of that delicious citrus sugar syrup which I’ll be sharing soon.

Homemade Mixed Peel

Print Recipe
Homemade Mixed Peel
Homemade Mixed Peel is so much more flavourful than supermarket bought. It isn’t as bitter and has a more fully rounded flavour that captures the essence of citrus season.
Homemade Mixed Peel
Prep Time 1.5 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 14 days
Servings
800g
Ingredients
  • 4 organic oranges unwaxed if available
  • 4 organic lemons unwaxed if available
  • 1 organic grapefruit unwaxed if available
  • 2300 ml cold water
  • 1350 g granulated sugar
Prep Time 1.5 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 14 days
Servings
800g
Ingredients
  • 4 organic oranges unwaxed if available
  • 4 organic lemons unwaxed if available
  • 1 organic grapefruit unwaxed if available
  • 2300 ml cold water
  • 1350 g granulated sugar
Homemade Mixed Peel
Instructions
Day 1
  1. If your fruit is waxed then you will need to wash off the wax from the skin of the fruit first by giving it a light scrub. Cut the oranges, lemons and grapefruit into quarters then with very sharp knife remove the skin from the pith and the flesh.
  2. Cut the peel lengthways again. You might need to cut the lemon peel once, the orange peel twice more and the grapefruit peel three times more to get even sized pieces. Then cut widthways into short thin strips.
  3. Weigh the peel, you should have around 450g.
  4. Place the peel into a stainless steel saucepan with the cold water then bring to the boil. Turn the heat low and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from the heat and set a sieve over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the saucepan through the sieve, set aside the peel for one moment and weigh out the cooking water.
  6. Pour 1140ml of the cooking water back into the saucepan with 900g of the sugar. If you don’t have enough cooking water then just top up with tap water. Bring the sugar and water to a gentle boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  7. Pour the sugar syrup over the peel, cover and leave the peel to soak for 24 hours.
Day 2
  1. Strain the syrup into a large saucepan and return the peel to the bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 450g of sugar to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for a couple of minutes making sure the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Pour the syrup back over the peel, cover and leave for another 24 hours.
Day 3
  1. Pour the peel and syrup into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour everything back into the bowl, cover and leave the peel to soak for four final days.
Day 7
  1. Drain the fruit, place on a fine wire rack and leave in a sterile dry place until no longer sticky, such as a turned-off oven. Although leave a note on the oven that it is not to be used. The mixed peel can take as long as seven days to completely dry. The best way to store the mixed peel afterwards is in sterilised glass jars and should keep for at least a couple of months.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from the Reader's Digest 'The Cook's Scrapbook' Ed. John Palmer

Have you tried Homemade Glacé Cherries yet?

Homemade Glacé Cherries