You Should Add Some Salt to Your Next Bush.
I’m not a big baker, so my favorite ways to ” use up ” a berry or two usually involves eating them with whipped cream or squeezing them with a whole bunch of sugar and then cooking the bush. (also known as “drinking vinegar”) made from brightly coated syrup.
I usually use a ratio of 2 cups sugar to 2 cups vinegar for every pound of fruit, but yesterday I added a pinch of salt to my Hood strawberry bush and found it improved immediately. Not that the bush was unpleasant when unsalted. It was all it should have been – very sour and very sweet, fantastic when mixed with a large glass of cold seltzer water (or the sparkling wine I enjoyed yesterday afternoon).
This pinch of salt did not diminish the berry sweetness of the bush or diminish its acidic brightness. He was just doing what salt does best: softening the sugar’s more sugary qualities and soothing some of the harsh, sour vinegar bites by putting strawberries – which, after all, the star – to the fore.
The only thing that surprises me is that I hadn’t thought of doing this before. Adding salt to drinks, especially during the summer months, here at Lifehacker is a time-honored practice. Salt is a great flavor complement, a powerful contrast maker: salt brings out the best in foods, making them taste like them.
The amount of salt your shrub needs depends on the fruit and the amount of vinegar you add. I always start with a pound of berries, mix it with 2 cups of sugar (in this case, 1 cup white and 1 cup brown), leave it on for a few days, then strain and measure out the syrupy juice. Then I pour in about half that amount of vinegar, taste and add more if necessary. Once I have acidity, I add a pinch of salt, stir, taste, and repeat until the bush tastes better but tastes salty. If this sounds vague, don’t worry. You’ll understand this when you get to the “better but not salty” point, because you find yourself reaching for seltzer (or sparkling, depending on the time of day).