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 adds refreshing flavor while stimulating the appetite, quenching the thirst and energizing the body.

What is a shrub? 

A “shrub” is an old way of preserving. It’s typically a fruit-infused syrup, made with fresh ingredients, 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”,  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 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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 13 reviews
  • 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

Units 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

 

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Comments

  1. Has anyone left the fruit mixture steep longer than the 4-5 days? I was just wondering how that would affect the flavor. Thank you in advance for your advice! Also does fresh vs frozen rhubarb significantly impact the flavor?

    1. Using frozen fruit will just add water to the shrub but it still should work! Honestly I have left the fruit in for a month and it was totally fine. Depending on the fruit, the shrub may stay brighter in color when you strain it out early on!

  2. I used a but more rhubarb/sugar than the recipe called for and am wondering what the ratio of strained liquid to vinegar should be? 1 cup of strained liquid to 1 cup of vinegar? Thank you!

    1. Hi Britta! I think you try to match the sugar and vinegar quantities. So if you use more sugar, add more vinegar, equal amounts so the flavor balance is right.

  3. I make this every year when I need to clean up my rhubarb. Often use 8 cups fruit. It is so easy. I chop rhubarb in food processor, then use your vinegar and sugar amounts. When it is finally done and has sit in the fridge a week or so, I cold pack it so it is shelf stable and can drink it all year.






      1. I sterilize pint canning jars, along with the lids and bands. Then I heat the rhubarb shrub to boiling, and put it in the jars as close to boiling temperature as I can get just transferring it from the pot to the jar. Put the lids on and let it sit. The lids pop, and I don’t move anything for 24 hours to Make sure I don’t disturb the seal. I put it on a shelf in a cool place, and have it all year without taking up refrigerator space. I also have rhubarb that is green, not bright red. So I just put in some red colored sugar after I squeeze the juice out. Better than looking at green shrub to put in my sparkling water. I just started in second batch with 16 cups of rhubarb

  4. Hi! Thank you so much for this helpful recipe, I improvised with some basil too 🙂 I’ve kept it in the fridge to mellow for a couple of weeks, and am now noticing a sediment of sorts at the bottom. Does you know if this is normal?
    It smells and tastes ok (from before I noticed) but I don’t know if I contaminated it accidentally… it’s so tasty I don’t want to throw it out !!

    1. Could it be the sediment from the AC vinegar? The “mother”? If it looks like that it is totally fine.

  5. I made this and let sit for 5 days before straining out the rhubarb. I’m finding it a bit lacking in rhubarb flavour. It tastes mostly of vinegar to me. Do you think I can add juiced rhubarb to it to bump up the flavour??
    I also used the leftover rhubarb to make crisp. It was delicious!!

        1. Not specifically Terri, no. But you could mix with it vodka, gin, to taste. Maybe add a slash of sparking wine, or mineral water. 🙂

  6. I’m wondering if I could do it also like an Oxymel? Adding the rhubarb with honey to the vinegar and let it sit for a while, frequently shaking it. Like this I could also swap the sugar for honey.

    What do you think?

    1. Hi Eileen, Just make sure your vinegar is at least 5% acidity. Use honey and process just like the sugar, letting it macerate with the fruit for a day or two before adding the vinegar. You’ll get more fruit flavor and juice this way.

  7. This may be a naive question, but can you substitute granulated Monk Fruit for the sugar?

    1. You know, it has bee a while since I’ve made this. Do they taste good?

      1. I’ve used the solids to make chutney by adding chopped, dried apricots, almonds, shallots, garlic, crystallized ginger, spices, and a little more sugar and vinegar. Great on baguettes with chèvre!

        1. I’m making rhubarb shrub for the first time and upon seeing that you use the rhubarb solids to make chutney I’d love your recipe. Ive never made chutney before either but it sounds delicious!

          1. Barbara, I just made it up as I went along, based on my impressions of chutney from a jar. I dumped the ingredients listed above in proportions that looked “right” into a kettle, and cooked it up until it had kind of a jammy consistency. Use spices you like; cinnamon, cloves, and maybe garam masala would be good. Sorry this isn’t more specific—use your intuition and ingredients that you enjoy.

        2. Wow, Lars! You got creative with your culinary skills! Sounds delicious with the cheese. I just composted mine and feel like I missed out. Next time I’ll follow your lead. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Ok, so I messed up and put the vinegar in with rhubarb and sugar right away.
    Do you think it may turn out or should I start over?

    1. It’ll be fine! The reason to do sugar first is that it can draw more juice out of the fruit. But it is not a big deal!

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