Concord Grape Shrub and Lavender
When we bought the ranch in Tehachapi, we inherited over fifty old Concord grapes vines and a few English lavender bushes. The Concords are very good eating grapes but we had to figure out what to do with all extra fruit. This shrub made with grape juice, vinegar and lavender blossoms makes a beautiful beverage. The window for Concord grapes is short, so get them when you see them at the market in early fall.
Makes a quart
3 1/2 pounds[1.6 kg] Concord grapes on their stems, rinsed
6 cups hot water
½ -1 cup [60 -120g] sugar
3/4 cup [180 ml] apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lavender blossoms
Mint for garnish
1 quart [960 ml] mason jar with lid
Put the grapes and hot water into a stock pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Ten reduce heat to low and cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until the grape skins are split and soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the juice from the grapes through a food mill set over a large bowl. Press the grape solids to release the remaining juice. Discard the solids.
You should have about 1 quart [960 ml] of grape juice. Add in ½ cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Taste. If you like a sweeter juice, add another ½ cup. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix to combine. Measure the juice, which should be about 1 quart. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar until it’s dis- solved, then taste. Add the remaining 1/2 cup if you’d like a sweeter juice. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. Add the lavender blossoms while the juice is warm and steep until the desired strength is reached, 15 to 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the blossoms. Transfer the juice into a large mason jar. Store in the fridge.
To serve: Fill a glass with ice cubes and add two or three tablespoons of grape shrub. Fill with filtered water or sparkling water. Garnish with mint or lavender blossoms and serve. The grape shrub keeps for 2 months in the fridge.