In the Kitchen: Sekanjabin

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s mighty hot here in Boston. I haven’t been working in the Manor kitchen much lately, but I have a great recipe for days like this. It’s not mid-century, but much older.

Shrubs — a syrup made with vinegar, sugar, and fruit, then diluted — have become popular lately, especially for cocktails, but the concept goes way back. The ancient Greeks drank oxymel (literally “vinegar-honey” and exactly what you think). The sweet and sour makes for a very refreshing drink.

The vinegar-based shrub is an American beverage, dating back to colonial days. A contemporary is switchel — water with vinegar, sweetener (might be brown sugar or molasses), and ginger. European shrubs are made by steeping fruit in alcohol. They’re also very good, but not exactly thirst-quenching. Maybe I’ll delve into that sort later.

One of my favorite summertime beverages of this type is Sekanjabin, from Persia.


You need:
4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup vinegar*
big handful of fresh mint**

Put the sugar and the water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and add the vinegar. Simmer for about half an hour. Take it off the heat and add the mint. Let the syrup cool. Strain out the mint and pour syrup into a glass bottle. It will keep without refrigeration.

* You can use red or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar. I don’t recommend balsamic or distilled white vinegar.

** There’s only a token mint sprig in the picture because I already denuded my mint plant.

To serve, pour a splash of syrup into a glass, add ice water, and stir. Perhaps garnish with a little mint. Proportions are up to you, but generally about five parts water to one part syrup is good. I also like it made with hot water in the winter. It’s particularly soothing when one is suffering from a sore throat.


Published in: on 26 July 2016 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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