Shrub is a term not just used to refer to the type of bushy plant. It is also a word used to describe a type of soft drink which was common in the US during the colonial era. Though drinking vinegars fell out of favour since the advent of modern refrigeration, this can still be an interesting way to preserve and use produce from your garden.
Shrubs or drinking vinegars combine fruit, a natural sweetener, and vinegar (often apple cider vinegar). These ingredients are used to make a concentrated syrup, which is mixed with cold water or sparkling water to make a refreshing drink. Herbs and spices are often also added to make for some interesting and unusual flavour combinations.
I personally have not made shrubs before – though I do make a range of cordials from the drinks in my garden. But since I make apple cider vinegar from the apples from my forest garden, and am well aware of its health benefits, making shrubs is something I plan to experiment with in the next few months. Perhaps, if you have not done so before, you might like to do the same? This is a great sustainable drink to enjoy.
To make a shrub, you can use the hot or cold processes. The hot process involves heating equal parts honey or other sweetener and apple cider vinegar then adding fruit and other herbs or spices and simmering for around 5 minutes to let them release their flavours. This is then cooled, strained and bottled. You can also avoid heating and simply leave the ingredients together in a jar to infuse for a week or so, giving it a good shake every day.
Typically shrubs will have equal parts fruit, sweetener and vinegar, though all the different elements can be adjusted to create a healthy drink that is suited to your particular tastes.