Ay, there’s the Shrub

It was my birthday last week and since it was my 30th birthday I’m now the proud owner of a walker AND a cane.  (Not to mention a denture bath and baby food.)  On top of that Will threw me a fabulous birthday lobster bake!  Some of my guests, who are also readers of the blog, commented that they had no idea what I was going to write about since we had the party catered.  Well I won’t write about the party itself, but I do have something potentially blog worthy to post about.

A few months back I received a copy of Edible Boston that featured an article on “shrubs”.  No, not the bushes in my front yard, but something otherwise known as “drinking vinegar”.  Shrubs are essentially sweetened fruit juice mixed with vinegar.  The result is a concentrated juice with a an acidic kick.  From the article it seems that shrubs have been all over the hipster scene for years.  They use them to make colonial era cocktails.  But the part of the article that intrigued me most is that they can also be used to make mock-tails and sodas.  Since I’ve recently found myself a teetotaler, this was of great interest to me!

My first attempt at shrubs came with my first farm share of the year.  I received two quarts of AMAZING organic strawberries that had to be eaten nearly immediately.  They were some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had, but even though I tried I couldn’t eat them all myself in 2 days.  By the third day they were really starting to turn, so I decided to turn them into a strawberry shrub.  After reading many many articles and recipes on shrubs I found that you could make shrubs through a cold processing of the fruit, a hot processing or something in between.  Aside from that there was one commonality – in most of the recipes the amount of fruit to sugar to vinegar was 1:1:1 by volume.  Below I’ll explain how I made mine.

Look at these amazing strawberries I got in my first farm share!

Oh, and you’re probably wondering, “what does this have to do with your birthday?” Well, I decided to serve my 3 week old strawberry shrub to my guests to see what they thought.  The results seemed to be pretty consistent, “not terrible, I’d drink more of it”.  That’s what I think too.  If you can get over the faint vinegar smell it is actually pretty delicious.  I imagine in mixed drinks you wouldn’t even notice the vinegar smell.

Strawberry Shrub


  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  1. Chop strawberries.

    Cut strawberries.

  2. Mix 1 cup of sugar with strawberries and let macerate in a container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

    Mix sugar with strawberries.

  3. By this point the maceration should have extracted a large amount of liquid from the strawberries.  A bunch of excess sugar will have settled on the bottom of the container.

    Strawberry maceration.

  4. Strain strawberries from juice and pour juice into a sanitized container.

    Strain strawberry juice and sugar into container.

  5. Funnel excess sugar into container and add cup of cider vinegar.

    Add vinegar to juice.

  6. Return mixture to fridge and let sit from 2 weeks to several months.  After a week the excess sugar should have dissolved.  If it has not, shake the container every few days until sugar dissolves.

    Here’s the finished strawberry shrub I served at my party!

Non-alcoholic Strawberry Shrub Soda

Mix 1 Tbsp strawberry shrub with 1 cup of soda water.  Stir gently and serve over ice.

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