Happy April Fool's Day! This is a post-factum post, a catch-all catch-up, and it would seem the joke's on me. In true Seussical fashion, after I made shrub (also known as drinking vinegar or switchel) for the March FIJ Challenge (jellies and shrubs), I started seeing it here and there, I started seeing it everywhere. I saw it at an Asian supermarket (the signs say it's a healthy drink)...
... in a deli refrigerator case...
... and at the Tait Farm Foods booth at the Philadelphia Flower Show. They were giving away samples, which tasted predominantly of fruit, sweet and tart, with that sour-funky vinegar flavor only at the finish. Quite nice, very refreshing. I bought a few bottles for research purposes.
Alas, after much judicious sampling I have decided shrub just isn't my thing. I can see why some FIJ Challenge participants match a mix of 3 parts red wine vinegar and 1 part balsamic vinegar with strawberries or Braggs apple cider vinegar with citrus, pairings that would not have occurred to me before. So I'm happy to have expanded my palate and learned something new, even if I don't think I'll re-visit the topic. It does tug at my imagination, though, in ways that soup base does not.
Speaking of re-visiting topics, one February Sockdown category was repeats, so I knit another pair of lovely Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt, this one in Opal Uni-Solid, 2600 Purple. They're the liturgically correct color for Lent, and they're finished, although one day past the Sockdown deadline. Oh well. I tweaked the pattern a very little: substituted 2x2 ribbing, varied the pattern by a half-drop, fiddled with the star toe for fit. Otherwise, it's a beautiful and truly repeat-worthy pattern!
For a second March FIJ Challenge project I made Wine and Herb Jelly by Cathy Barrow, using a Riesling Auslese instead of the Gewürtztraminer specified in the recipe. It was easy, pretty, and tasty, with a nice soft set and excellent yield; something to do at a time of year when there's not much fresh local fruit roundabout Exit 151. I put a sprig of thyme in the jars for decoration, but think the wine jelly would be equally good without it. The Auslese has such a luscious peach flavor, I suspect it might make an extra-luxurious and flavorful base for pepper jelly.
Obviously I'm having a lot of fun with the challenges. I'm particularly appreciative of the expertise and creativity of other participants, which leads to a phenomenon familiar from knitting: so many great recipes, too little time. It turns out almost anything can be made into jelly! Among the many recipes I'd like to try someday: Stout Beer Jelly, Grape Juice Jelly, Jalapeño-Confetti Jelly (in Preserving with Pomona's Pectin). As I don't much care for the massive quantities of sugar in so many traditional jelly recipes, I'd very much like to try Pomona's pectin, which would allow me to reduce the amount of sugar and let the fruit flavors shine.
I was down to one small jar of January's blood orange marmalade, so I made more. The January batch was rose-gold, but the March batch turned out ruby red. They taste about the same. Huh. I put up this batch in three 4-oz and three 8-oz jars to suit the excellent marmalade cake recipe – pity I don't have any 10-oz jars. Hm.