The shrub is the perfect sweet and tangy fruit-based syrup for all of your summer drinks and cocktails. Made with just 3 ingredients and endless variations, serve shrub syrup mixed with water, soda, or liquor for a refreshing drink!
Place the strawberries (no need to defrost if frozen ) and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Bring the mixer to a simmer, stirring and mashing them frequently to prevent scorching and to release the juices.
Remove the sweetened berries from the heat, and allow them to cool to room temperature. If you'd like to use the berries for another use, stain the solids with a fine mesh strainer (pressing the berries to expel as much juice as possible) or with cheesecloth (squeezing the cloth gently with your hands to get all of the juice out.) Otherwise, add the vinegar (and any optional add-ins in the Notes below.) Place the mixture in a clean, lidded jar in the fridge until chilled, about 3 hours. Some sugar may sink to the bottom, just stir it back in. Once chilled, strain out all of the solids and keep refrigerated for about 3 months. See Notes below for serving suggestions.
Cold Process Method (Takes 1 Week)
If your strawberries are frozen, defrost them.
Muddle or mash the strawberries with the sugar in a 1.5 qt/L clean jar or non-reactive container. Put the lid on the jar and let it rest in the refrigerator for 2 days while the sugar pulls the juice out of the fruit.
On day 3, stir in the vinegar and any desired flavor add-ins in the Notes below. Let the mixture sit for another 3-4 days in the refrigerator, shaking or stirring it once a day. Some sugar may sink to the bottom, just stir it back in. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer (pressing the berries to expel as much juice as possible) or with cheesecloth (squeezing the cloth gently with your hands to get all of the juice out.) Keep refrigerated for about 3 months. See Notes below for serving suggestions.
For a Strawberry Shrub Cocktail:
Fill a cocktail shaker or glass jar with ice. Pour in the shrub and rum. Shake to combine. Strain the liquid into a glass half filled with ice. Top off with the ginger beer. Garnish with fresh berries and mint if desired. See Notes below for other serving suggestions.
I chose to use strawberries as they are in season, but you can use any kind of berries, fruit, and even some kinds of vegetables!
The fruit/berries can be fresh or frozen, and don’t need to be perfect (just not moldy), but they should be ripe and juicy! Frozen fruit will break down easier, releasing more juice.
Berries like raspberries, blueberries (be sure to crush them), blackberries, or chopped cranberries.
Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, passionfruit, watermelon, or pomegranate. Citrus fruits aren’t suited for shrubs because they are so acidic and, with the vinegar, may make the final drink too tart and mouth puckering.
Temperate fruits like apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, or figs.
Vegetables like rhubarb, cucumber, and tomatoes.
For hard fruits like apples, pears or rhubarb, grate them or finely dice them so you can fully extract the juices for the shrub syrup.
Red wine vinegar has a beautiful red hue which intensifies the shrub color already pigmented by red fruits like strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. It creates a sweeter, richer shrub.
Balsamic vinegar is delightful with red berries but because it is has such a powerful taste and color, use a milder vinegar and start by replacing only 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of it with a tablespoon of the balsamic.
Apple cider vinegar and champagne vinegar are common for shrub making. Their mild yet fruity flavors are pleasant and agreeable with other flavor pairings. Unseasoned wine vinegar is also a light tasting, smooth choice.
Our least favorite vinegar in shrubs is regular white (distilled) vinegar. It has a very sharp taste and doesn’t provide any interesting flavors like other types of vinegars do.
Have fun experimenting with different shrub flavors by adding other ingredients to compliment the fruit and vinegar you chose:
¼ cup edible flowers like rose petals, lavender, nasturtiums, or elderberry blossoms.
¼ cup fresh herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, dill, or fennel.
1 tablespoon aromatics like freshly grated or smashed turmeric, ginger, or lemongrass.
1 tablespoon dried whole spices like peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, or star anise.
Shrub Soda - Add 2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 mL) to a glass filled with ice. Top with ¾ cup (190 mL) of sparkling water, club soda, or other clear soda like ginger ale. Add more shrub syrup to taste.
Shrub Cocktail - Shrubs are great for highball cocktails. Replace the simple syrup in any cocktail recipe with the shrub syrup. Leave out citrus juice at first, tasting as you slowly add it so the drink isn't too sour. Garnish with fruit and fresh herbs or edible flowers if desired.
Shrub Beer - Take beer to the next level by gently stirring in 3-4 tablespoons of (1.5-2 oz/45-60 mL) shrub.
Shrub Wine - Add 2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 mL) to a wine glass and top with sparkling wine, like prosecco.
Shrub Iced Tea - Add 2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 mL) to a glass of ice tea. Play around with different types of iced tea, like black, green or herbal.
Salad Dressing - For a quick and easy fruity salad dressing, combine 1 part shrub to 2-3 parts extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt, pepper, and fresh minced garlic to taste.
Sauces - Drizzle over yogurt, ice cream, rice or grain bowls, oatmeal, etc!
Marinade - Coat pressed tofu, seiten, or tempeh with the shrub, marinate and then grill.