A shrub is basically a vinegared fruit syrup. Sweet, tart and intensely refreshing, shrubs are the sophisticated older sibling of sweet cordials, enjoyed all around the world, and for good reason — they are delicious! You’ll find them in Southern USA where shrubs originated, to steamy South-East Asia, where they are spiked with sweet tropical fruits for instant relief from the humidity.
This shrub recipe can be used for all types of fruits — raspberries as I have here, or plums, peaches, pineapples and mangoes. Use whatever is in season and make sure the fruit is really ripe. I use regular white sugar, but you could substitute with raw sugar. When you first make it, the vinegar can be a little dominant, so leave the shrub in the fridge for a few weeks and let the flavours balance out.
Drink your shrub in a tall glass with lots of ice, soda water (club soda) and a jigger of gin.
Makes 1 x 750ml bottle
glass or ceramic bowl
another bowl, lined with a sieve
3 cups roughly chopped very ripe raspberries (or a mix of strawberries/raspberries/blueberries)
2 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1. Mix the fruit and sugar: Put the berries in a glass or ceramic bowl. Pour the sugar over and leave for a few hours, or better still, overnight in the fridge. The sugar will slowly dissolve and draw out all the lovely juice in the berries. You’ll end up with a bowl full of soft berries surrounded by sweet syrup.
2. Strain and squish: Pour the mixture into a large sieve that is sitting over a bowl, to catch the syrup. Squish the berries with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Keep the sugared fruit pulp to serve over ice cream or Granola.
3. Add vinegar: Stir the vinegar into the strained fruit syrup. It will have a very strong vinegar taste at this stage, which is normal.
4. Pour and store: Fit a funnel into your bottle and ladle in the shrub. Seal and store in the fridge for a few weeks, after which the flavours will develop and the vinegar will mellow. You can of course drink it straight away, but you might want to add a little more sugar, as the vinegar will taste quite strong. It will keep in the fridge for up to three months.
5. Serve: To serve, one-quarter fill a glass with the syrup, top with soda water and garnish as you please.
Photo Credit: Anthea Williamson