I have to admit, when a friend told me that they had a good shrub recipe, I thought they meant growing Azaleas. Turns out they were talking about a drink!
What is A Shrub Drink?
Technically, a shrub is a smaller tree or bush. But the shrubs we’re talking about here are a bit more outside of the box. It’s a refreshing herbal drink that can be enjoyed hot or cold, but mainly iced. Shrubs can also be used as a cocktail base or flavoring for cakes or pies. The possibilities are endless!
To make a shrub, you’ll need fruit or veggies, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Want to know more? Read on!
Basic Shrub Recipe
This is the basic recipe to make a shrub. You can use almost any fruit, some veggies, any sugar and any type of vinegar.
- 2 cups cut fruit or veggies
- 2 cups sugar
- as much vinegar as you have fruit, 2 cups in this case
Place the fruit or veggies in a glass jar, like a canning jar. Cover with the sugar and shake or stir to coat all of the fruit or veggies. Cover and leave in a cool, dark place for 24 hours. This will pull the juice out of the fruit or veggies and make it available for the vinegar.
After 24 hours, you’ll notice a syrup in the bottom of the jar. This is the natural juices mixing with the sugar. At this point, you can add the vinegar. Stir or shake and place in that dark, cool spot for 2-3 days. Strain and serve with ice and sparkling water. Or use in one of the suggestions below.
Fruit or Veggie Shrubs
Almost any fruit can be used in this shrub recipe. I haven’t had a failure batch with any fruit. Blackberry is my current favorite, but try what you like.
For veggies, use something with higher natural sugar content. Carrots are my favorite here. I shred my carrots to make more surface area. Sweet bell pepper makes an interesting flavor note. What about corn? The starches in the corn almost make it creamy. A bit odd, and certainly different!
Whatever you use, try to find your fruit or veggies at the peak of ripeness. Picked too soon, they will lack the sugars needed to make your shrub delicious. Too ripe and the mix could start to rot or ferment.
Adding Herbs to Your Shrub
For the first part, use only the fruit or veggies that you plan to use. Then when you add the vinegar, you can add the herbs you want. For each cup of fruit or veggies, use 1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs or 1/4 cup dried herbs.
In my blackberry shrub, I use pineapple sage. The fresh pineapple aroma mixes well with the dark, sweet blackberries. Sometimes I’ll add a small piece of hot pepper, such as Thai chili. This adds spice and flavor, making it kind of like a fire cider or master tonic only you don’t need to wait nearly as long.
Almost any herb that can be consumed or used internally will work here. I’ll give you some suggestions below. Be sure your herbs are clean and bug-free and that no pesticides have been used on them.
Sugar for Your Shrub Recipe
You can use any type of sugar for this recipe. Common white sugar is often used, although I prefer the slight molasses taste of raw sugar. Other types of sugar that can be used include coconut sugar, palm sugar, date sugar, demerara sugar, turbinado sugar and many more. I have not tried using sugar substitutes like stevia, so I can’t say if these will work or not. Actual sugar is needed to pull the juice from the fruit or veggies. You may be able to use a blend of sugar and stevia in this case.
A Few Shrub Recipes and Suggestions
Here are some shrub recipes and suggestions. Use your imagination and have fun! For these recipes, the 2 cups of fruit or veggies, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of vinegar ratio work well.
- Blackberry and Pineapple Sage
- Strawberry and Rhubarb
- Strawberry and Basil
- Cherry and Lime
- Strawberry Lemonade
- Ginger and Carrot
- Corn and Thyme
- Bell Pepper and Lemongrass
- Ginger and Lemongrass
- Apple Lemon Balm
You can see that the possibilities are endless. Experiment and have some fun!
The vinegar can be apple cider vinegar, or it can be something else. Rice wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, and sherry vinegar are all good choices. Distilled vinegar is too harsh and not very palatable. Save this for cleaning! Also, balsamic vinegar can be too pungent for a drink like this.
Making Shrub Cocktails
To use the shrub in a cocktail, first, add ice to a glass. Pour in about 1/3 cup of the strained shrub, 1/3 cup sparkling water, and 1/3 cup rum. A medium rum that’s neither dark nor clear would be good here. If you prefer a different liquor, like bourbon, use that instead.
To make this a mock-tail, omit the rum and increase the shrub and sparkling water to 1/2 cup each.
Shrub recipes like these are a fun way to both preserve and use your fruits and veggies. Have fun!
Herbal Shrub Recipe: A Drink, Not a Bush You Grow! was written by Debra Maslowski.