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Shrubs/Sipping Vinegars


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A recipe that I discovered last summer that I wanted to share is for sipping vinegars, or "shrubs".


It's basically:

2 cups of fresh/frozen fruits and fresh/dry herbs mixed with 2 cups vinegar (I used ACV)

Let stand for 1 week in a mason jar or other container, shake daily

Strain out fruit and herbs with cheese cloth

Add 1.5 cups sugar to vinegar mixture

Shake vigorously and repeatedly until sugar is completely dissolved 

Store in the fridge for as long as it lasts.


I just finished off my blueberry-thyme shrub the other day, so that was almost a year it lasted. The strawberry-basil is still going strong. It turned out much sweeter than I like and was not as herby as I would have preferred. Oh, so much more basil next time! 


To drink, just add to some club soda on ice to your taste and enjoy. Makes for a surprisingly refreshing beverage in the summer! Also mixes in cocktails but I never liked the way those turned out. You can get super creative with the fruit/herb combinations and it's easy and inexpensive to make. Makes me feel a lot better about taking a risk when trying something different. My next attempt will be apple-ginger-rhubard. We'll see how that goes! 


Here is the page that led me to this delicious discovery: http://imbibemagazine.com/homemade-drinking-vinegars/

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Thank you Elspeth for posting the recipe and the link. I am definitely going to give these a try. I love the strawberry/basil idea, and will act on your experience of finding that lots of basil needs to be used! I am growing Holy Basil from seed, and will suggest to them that when they come of age they might like to meet some strawberries...... I've never grown basil before so I will see how they go.


I didn't know that these sipping vinegars are known as "shrubs." I wonder why? To me, a shrub is a bushy plant. Years ago, someone used to call me a little "cherub" (haha)! but in the French accent it sounded like I was being called a little shrub, which always made me laugh. I think I am more like a shrub than a cherub though.

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You're welcome! I hope you find that you enjoy them as much as I do. I wish you luck with your little holy basil seedlings. Maybe the prospect of being deliciously merged with some juicy strawberries will help inspire and motivate them!


Haha, love the nickname! Wikipedia and a couple other sources said that "shrub" comes from the Arabic word "sharbah" (or was it "sharab"?) which means "a drink" but beyond that I'm not sure why they chose to call it that. Hmmm!

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I've copied and pasted the following from Wikipedia, for anyone who is interested. .....

The early English version of the shrub arose from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century.[1] The drink gained popularity among smugglers in the 1680s trying to avoid paying import taxes for goods shipped from mainland Europe:[1][3] To avoid detection, smugglers would sometimes sink barrels of spirits off-shore to be retrieved later;[1] the addition of fruit flavours aided in masking the taste of alcohol fouled by sea water.[1] ]

 The shrub was itself a common ingredient in punches, either on its own or as a simple mix with brandy or rum.[1] It was also served during the Christmas season mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry, rum and other spirits.[1] The shrub was sold in most public houses throughout England in the 17th and 18th centuries, although the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.[1]

The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season.[10][11] Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs[10] and the practice carried over to colonial America.[4][6] By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup.[6][8][12] The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails.[4][11][12] Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration.[10][13]

The serving of vinegar-based shrub drinks became popular again in 2011 and 2012 in American restaurants and bars.[4][14][15][16] The trend has also been noted in bars in Canada[10][17] as well as London.[18] 


As used here, the term "shrub" is a metathetic variant of the word "shurb", derived from the Arabic word sharāb meaning "to drink".[2][19]


This is all new to me, it's amazing how much I'm learning on here.

I'm certainly going to be making some shrubs!

Edited by Mistflower
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