Make the most of early summer cherries with a shrub, or drinking vinegar. This recipe combines vinegar, fruit and sugar to make a sweet and zesty syrup that pairs wonderfully with plain soda water or even lemonade. The mixture comes together quickly but needs to sit for two days and up to two weeks, so be sure to plan ahead.
Place cherries in a bowl and lightly crush using a potato masher or fork. Transfer cherries and their juices to a clean quart jar.
Combine the RAPTURE balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat just to a boil and pour it into the jar, making sure the cherries are submerged.
Store the jar in a cool, dark place (like a pantry, cupboard, or refrigerator) for at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks, shaking daily. The longer it infuses, the stronger the flavors will be.
Strain the vinegar through a fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter. Combine the vinegar mixture, sugar, and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into the original, re-sterilized jar or another sterilized jar or bottle. The shrub may be used right away, although the flavors will continue to improve and harmonize over the next few days.
To make a non-alcoholic soda, combine 1 part shrub with 6 parts sparkling water. Taste and adjust quantities as desired.
Store the shrub in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.