Huckleberry Fig Shrub

A simple shrub recipe made from huckleberries, figs, sugar, and two types of vinegar. Mixed with ice, fizzy water, and lime, this drinking vinegar tastes like soda for grown-ups.

The best thing about meeting other food bloggers is learning that you are not the only person obsessed with obscure produce. Though many people I know dislike their sweet, seedy flesh and sharp taste, fresh figs are a favorite fruit of mine. I can never resist buying up every variety I can find, then leaving them on the counter where I gaze upon them lovingly every time I walk by. (Unfortunately, the fruit flies that descend on us every summer like them this way too…)

The stars aligned last week when, at a tomato-themed dinner hosted by Princess Tofu via Feastly, Phi mentioned planning her next dinner around figs. And she wanted me to make desserts. (Plural.) Coincidentally, my dear friend and photojournalist Shelley knew of an under-appreciated stand of fig trees in Santa Rosa that were ripe for the picking. Shelley’s friend Angela’s late mother loved figs and planted a dozen trees on their property, but no one else in the family likes them, so they go to waste year after year. We loaded up the car with sunscreen, hats, and baskets, and headed north.

We picked a lot of figs.

We roped Nik into collaborating with us, and met him in the city to powwow and test recipes.

Craving refreshment after a day in the sun, I muddled the ripest figs into a shrub along with some huckleberries that Jay had picked up from our co-op. I added sugar, and red wine and apple cider vinegars, and strained the mixture to make a thick, crimson syrup. The huckleberries add earthy notes which tamp down the sweetness of the figs, and the vinegars work to provide balance and acidity.

Mixed with fizzy water, lime juice, and plenty of ice, this shrub has been a lifesaver during our California Indian Summer.

Things seem to be cooling down this week, which is fortunate since we’ve got a lot of cooking to do before Wednesday! If you love figs, please join us for our figgy feast. We hope to see you there. *Thanks to everyone who joined us for our feast! Stay tuned for more produce-themed meals.*

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Shrubbery:
Cherry Vanilla Maple Shrub
Lavender Kumquat Shrub

Gettin’ figgy with it:
Baked Rolled Barley with Figs, Berries, and Cardamom
Za’atar Broiled Figs with Pecans + Goat Cheese Honey Ice Cream
Fresh Fig Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Arugula

Huckleberry Fig Shrub {Drinking Vinegar}

If you can’t find huckleberries, blackberries or wild blueberries make good substitutes. I like the clean taste of sugar here, but feel free to try this with 1/2 cup honey or 2/3 cup grade A maple syrup in its place.

Makes 1 generous cup, enough for 8-12 drinks

1 cup chopped fresh figs
1/2 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries
3/4 cup organic blonde cane sugar
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (preferably unpasteurized)
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
ice, fizzy water, and lime wedges, for serving

In a large glass jar or bowl, combine the figs, huckleberries, and sugar. Mash lightly, cover tightly, and let sit for 24 hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. After 24 hours, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid syrup. (The solids are good stirred into plain yogurt, or tossed with more fresh fruit and baked into a crisp.) Stir the vinegar into the syrup, pour the syrup into a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The shrub will keep for up to at least a month, and probably longer. To serve, mix a tablespoon or two of syrup into a glass of ice and fizzy water, squeeze in a lime wedge, stir, and serve.

36 thoughts on “Huckleberry Fig Shrub”

  1. This is just the most beautiful set of drink photos I've seen all week!!! I feel like a thirst I didn't even know I had was sated just looking at these. I'm SO EXCITED about this amazing fig dinner–you don't even know. I wish I could go!!! I passed the link on to my parents in case they're able to make it :) I was just reading about gleaning the other day so it made me so happy that you guys were able to go pick those figs and turn them into a phenomenal-sounding event. I want to see pics!!!

  2. I had my first fresh fig when I was probably 22 years old and couldn't believe I'd been missing out on them for the entirety of my life previously. I love figs and I wish I had more access to fresh ones! One of the farms in Tallahassee where I used to live made fig vinegar which I bet would be killer in a cocktail like this.

    your huckleberry fig shrub looks and sounds perfect! and as always, your photos are so beautiful, Alanna. you make magic happen with light!

  3. Oh man! I am jealous of your fig-picking excursion! My favorite local fig tree was cut down last spring, so I am even more jealous than I might be otherwise. :) And that shrub sounds super interesting. I hope your dinner goes well!

  4. awwwww…. I would have joined you at Feastly in a heartbeat if I were in SF this month. Though I was sending you hugs & kisses that day, and I am sure you had so much fun.

    Anyway, I have long seen three of you played with figs and was curious about this fruit for awhile now. Seeing all of you blogging beautifully about figs make me want to try it someday. Maybe, I will start with this recipe. Gorgeous photos as always, Alanna :)

    1. You are the sweetest – thank you! I'll save you some shrub for us to enjoy when you come back. Soon, right?! We're planning more meals together and will have to drag you along, too. I can't wait for you to meet Phi and Nik. Such nice folks.

  5. I tried fresh figs for the first time this summer . Wow, they are so good! Looking at your gorgeous pictures of freshly picked figs makes me want to reach in and grab one!

  6. Thanks for the reminder to watch the produce department for figs. You wouldn't think they'd be hard to come by but Washington DC, where I live, must have a perilously short season.

    Fig leaves don't look like they'd cover much. Wonder why Eve bothered. ;)

    1. Thank you for this stunning recipe!! I tried this recipe with cherries instead of figs and huckleberry, white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and it works pretty good. For this cherry shrub i reduced the quantities of vinegars at half and i also add in the sirup one sichuan berry, two cloves and three allspice berries.

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