This is not a shrub as in a bush that grows in one’s garden; rather, it is a beverage made from infusing fruits, herbs, or even vegetables in apple cider vinegar. The infused vinegar is then strained from the fruit (the fruit is eaten) and the vinegar is combined with honey or sugar and drunk like an elixir or cordial. In colonial times, this was a way of preserving fruit, since canning had not been invented. Sometimes shrub was called “switchel” or beveridge” and was served with a little water, over ice, or combined with a little alcohol.
Generally shrubs are sipped from a cordial glass, poured over ice, or served with a bit of sparkling water. They are a wonderful remedy for congestion and sore throat and are excellent tonics for the body. They tend to make us perspire when we drink them. My favorite shrub is made from elderberries; however, you may substitute other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, or a combination thereof. Besides berries, you can also make shrub with peaches, nectarines, rhubarb, pears, beets, and chile peppers.
Makes about 2 quarts
- 2 cups berries or other fruits
- 1 quart apple cider vinegar
- 1 quart honey
- Wash and pick over the berries, or slice and pit fruit.
- Put the fruit in a jar, and cover with apple cider vinegar.
- Let stand for two to six weeks. If using elderberries, put them in a nonreactive pan.
- Pour the vinegar over the berries, cover, and bring to a low simmer.
- Remove from heat, and let stand overnight or up to four weeks.
- Mash the fruit vinegar, and strain through cheesecloth or muslin.
- Add the honey and blend well.
- Bottle in dark glass, sterilized jars with nonmetal lids.
Store in a cool dark place. We have never known of shrub to go bad in storage; however, it will do the body more good if it is used rather than stored. Use it within one year.
Recipe from The Creative Herbal Home by Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox.