How to make a shrub – a fruit-infused drinking vinegar- that can be added to cocktails and mocktails for a delicious and refreshing twist. Today I’ve used rhubarb, but this works with any fruit! A great way to preserve what’s growing in your garden! 
A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home
In the garden of gentle sanity may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.
Chogyam Trungra Rinpoche

Here’s an easy step by step into making a fruit shrub, sometimes called a “drinking vinegar”. Today I’m using rhubarb, but any fruit will work here- berries, stone fruit, even tropical fruit. When added to sparkling water or cocktails, a shrub add refreshing flavor while stimulating the appetite, quenching the thirst and energizing the body.

What is a shrub? 

A “shrub” is basically an old way of preserving. It’s typically a fruit- infused syrup, made with fresh ingredients, then fortified with vinegar (or alcohol)– and then aged, which develops its flavor and complexity. You can often find these now in specialty stores, called drinking vinegars and they are most commonly used in craft cocktails, or mocktails.

Before we had refrigeration, many methods were used to preserve nature’s bounty, saving them for the leaner months. Most of us are familiar with canning, curing, smoking, dehydrating, and fermenting, just to name a few- but in the last couple years, there has been a huge revival of the “shrub”, a way of preserving the essence and flavor of fresh produce – one that’s easy and fun to do at home, requiring no special equipment.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

The idea is simple really -it’s basically creating a syrup, by macerating fruit (or vegetables) with sugar, and then fortifying it with vinegar ( or alcohol) , which not only helps preserve, but continues to work with the sugars, and over time, creates complexity while mellowing and melding into a wonderful concoction.

For mixologists, shrubs have opened up a whole new world of flavor, adding dimension and complexity to cocktails, because the combinations are truly endless. For example, infuse strawberries or blackberries with mint, or star anise with pineapple, or peaches with basil. Shrubs can also be savory, like a tomato shrub infused with chilies and cilantro, or cucumber infused with fresh ginger, or even something as ordinary as celery infused with caraway seeds. Using different kinds of vinegar, and types of alcohols broaden the possibilities even further.

So this very basic recipe is just a starting place. Play around with what you have growing in abundance in your gardens and see what you can come up with. Have fun!

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home
For this rhubarb shrub, I resisted the temptation to add any other ingredients, in order to highlight rhubarb’s bright and refreshing flavor. It is just rhubarb, sugar and apple cider vinegar.
I actually made this back in the end of April, and it has deepened noticeably in flavor and complexity.
I won’t go into the ALL THE MANY benefits of apple cider vinegar, because those who know me are sick to death of hearing about it. But I will tell you this. Once I started drinking apple cider vinegar daily, a teaspoon or two in a glass of water, using the kind you see here “with the mother” in it, I have not gotten sick. Not a cold, or flu, going on 3 years. Yes, I am totally knocking on wood right now.
A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Cut the rhubarb into very small pieces. Toss with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Put in your fridge. Stir once every day, for 4- 5 days.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home
A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Eventually, you will have a syrup.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Strain, pressing the solids.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Add vinegar, which will not only preserve but brighten and help the flavor develop further.
Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge.

For a quick pick me up, spoon a tablespoon, or more to taste, into cold sparkling water, or ice water.

A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home
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A simple delicious recipe for Rhubarb Shrub that can be used to make cocktails and mocktails. A great way to preserve the rhubarb growing in your garden! #shrub #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #mocktail | Feasting at Home

Rhubarb Shrub Recipe

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: preserved
  • Method: preserving
  • Cuisine: pacific northwest

Description

A simple  shrub recipe using rhubarb or any other fruit. Delicious added to cocktails or sparkling water. An old way of preserving the essence and flavor of fruit!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups fruit – rhubarb, diced into very small 1/4 inch pieces ( or use other fruit or berries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider, or any other)

Instructions

Mix the rhubarb and granulated sugar in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4-5 days, stirring every 12 hours. Strain the liquid, pressing down hard on solids. Mix the rhubarb syrup with vinegar and pour into a lidded jar and refrigerate. You can use immediately, but after a week, their flavors will deepen, meld and harmonize. Add to cocktails or sparkling water.
This will keep up to a year.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 50

Keywords: shrub, how to make a shrub, rhubarb shrub recipe, what is a shrub?, shrub recipe, rhubarb recipes, rhubarb shrub

 

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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Comments

  1. I love rhubarb and can only find it frozen (and not often) where I live. In Germany I found rhubarb soda and juice. The juice is 70%; and great added to sparkling water. I can’t seem to find the same in the US. In doing an internet search I found your site. Shrubs are new to me, can they be frozen? That way when I’m somewhere that has fresh rhubarb I could make enough to share.

    1. I have never tried freezing a shrub! It’s a great question, the sugar may soften the consistency, like a sorbet texture. Shrubs however, keep forever though when refrigerated, I had one for a couple of years!

  2. This recipe makes a wonderful shrub syrup. We’ve enjoyed it as a cold drink with soda. But our favourite way to enjoy it is in boiling hot water – soooo wonderful when we come inside on a cold day !

  3. I have been making various shrubs for years although I have generally used my fathers method. That is to put my berries or chopped fruit in a large glass jar, cover it in vinegar and let it sit for a week or so ( sometimes mine has sat a lot longer) , then strain out and discard the fruit . Measure the juice into a large pan and add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Bring to a boil and then put it in bottles or jars. There is no need to refrigerate this, it keeps forever in the pantry with that much vinegar and sugar. The advantage with your recipe is that not cooking the resulting syrup might mean a fresher flavour and because the vinegar is not added to the fruit , the left over fruit has more uses although I have made chutney with vinegared fruit.

    1. Thanks for this alternative method- I will have to try this Yvonne!

  4. Thank you for this. All ofnus love it. I cant wait to try making shrub drinks with other fruits and berries.
    Delicious.
    I doubled the recipe. Accidentally left it for 7 days instead of 4-5, but all worked out well.
    Yum!!!

  5. Question: all the other shrub recipes I found online have you boil the mixture. Is there a benefit to macerating instead? Also have you tried with strawberries in the mix? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tia- I have only done it this way. Not sure what benefit is to boiling. Yes, I love adding strawberries to this!

  6. Loved it! Looking forward to trying cherries next! We used the leftover sugary rhubarb for muffins and pancakes with coconut too! So good!

  7. Shrubs originated because people had no refrigeration. So why are you keeping the shrub in the refrigerator?

    1. Well, you have a good point there! I’m not sure. That was how I was taught and didn’t even think to question! 😂 But now you got me thinking! Will have to try.

  8. Really simple and easy to follow recipe! I am pairing this with some lime sparkling water and it is super refreshing. I was going to add basil, but mine ended up going bad too quickly – next time!

    1. Hey Liz, normally I would say yes, but in this case, the sugar is being used to macerate the rhubarb- or draw the liquid out. So I’m not sure if honey would do the same thing? Something to try, now I’m curious…and maybe someone out there knows the answer to this?

      1. Maybe something like monk fruit sugar or another granulated sugar would work to macerate the fruit equally!

        What cocktails do you recommend with this? It’s so tangy and tasty!

  9. Hi Sylvia, is there anything we can use the leftover rhubarb pieces for after straining out the syrup? Just started the process tonight, can’t wait to try the shrub once it’s ready!

      1. I did exactly this – used the leftovers in rhubarb muffins. It was great. I cut the sugar by a bit in the recipe since I figured the sugar soaked rhubarb would be sweet enough – wish I hadn’t because the muffins were a little under-sweetened, but still delish!

    1. Straining the juice from the fruit, to make my bottle of shrub, without pressing it I returned the fruit to the jar, added some ginger, covered it with gin then left it all to stand a further 4 or 5 days (shaking occasionally). After draining, bottling and storing my flavoured gin ready to gift for Christmas, I used some of the fruit as a boozy desert. The remainder was moved to a smaller jar with a 2% salt//water solution (with the intention of creating a fermented rhubarb). Despite its soak in gin and addition of salt, the liquid tasted far too sweet to serve as a savoury dish, so I drained that off to make a lighter shrub, replaced the 2% solution and now have a fermented rhubarb to serve on my salads. So 1 fruit, 5 uses and no slaving over a hot stove 🙂

  10. I’ve been making this constantly. My husband and I put a little in a glass of sparkling water and call it a Rhuby Fizz. So delicious and refreshing! Feels festive but without the alcohol. I’ve also discovered some delicious cocktails incorporating it. It’s a keeper!

  11. I’ve just tried this for the first time, have to be honest, when I added the vinegar I said out loud “I hope I haven’t just ruined this”! I need to thank you now though because it’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to make more and try different flavours. I don’t drink alcohol so it’s great to have another interesting, tasty option.

  12. Fantastic! I tucked a few rose geranium leaves into the rhubarb-sugar mix. Divine!

  13. I make this every spring and it is amazing. Simple to make and the perfect way to preserve rhubarb from our garden.

    1. Thanks Julie, So happy you enjoyed the recipe and appreciate you taking the time to rate! Thanks!!!

  14. Just added the vinegar to my shrub. Can’t wait to taste next week. 🙂 How long will it keep in the fridge? Also looking forward to tossing the leftover rhubarb into my granola and smoothies!

  15. Ah! I have rhubarb shrub recipe going up tomorrow! Mind meld!! So cool you do a cold method as well 🙂 Gorgeous!