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 then eaten–and the vinegar is combined with honey or sugar and drunken like an elixir or cordial. In Colonial times, this was a way of preserving fruit, since canning had not been invented. Any kind of fruit can be used, however berries and elderberries are the most often used. Sometimes, shrub was called “switchel” or beveridge” and it 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, sore throat, and an excellent tonic for the body. They tend to make us perspire hen we drink them. Our favorite is elderberries for making shrub, however, you may substitute other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, or a combination thereof. Besides berries, we also make shrub with peaches, nectarines, rhubarb, pears, beets and chile peppers.
Recipe for Preparing a Fruit Shrub
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 2 to 6 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 4 weeks.
Mash the fruit vinegar and strain through cheesecloth or muslin. Add the honey and blend well. Bottle in dark glass, sterilized jars with non-metal 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.
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