Sunday, September 08, 2019

What is a shrub?

Shrub is an old Arabic word meaning drink and is related to sharba, the word for syrup. In Britain, shrub was originally a potent drink combining citrus juice, sugar and spirits.

In beverage terms, shrub is a refreshing vinegar/fruit/ sugar drink, often called a drinking vinegar or an acetract.

Shrubs have been around for a long time, and were very popular in 17th Century Europe and in Colonial America. At that time, shrub syrup was made by steeping fruit (usually berries) in vinegar for a period of time as a method of preservation.

The sugar, acid and optional alcohol helped keep the fruit concoction edible prior to refrigeration being invented. The acidity of the vinegar balances the sweetness of the flavors.


Raspberry Shrub and Lemonade were the most popular fruit drinks of the 19th century. They owed much of their popularity to the Temperance Movement, which promoted them as non-alcoholic alternatives to beer and hard spirits.

Strawberry Shrub, Cherry Shrub, Cinnamon Water, Barley Water and hot sugared tea were other alternatives. Raspberry and Strawberry Shrubs were also called Raspberry and Strawberry Vinegar.

The three essential ingredients that are needed to produce a shrub are:
• Fruit/Vegetables such as: berries, peaches, rhubarb, apples, kale, cucumbers, etc.
• Sugar, such as cane or refined.
• Vinegar: preferably red wine or apple cider. They are less bland than white vinegar.
What is a shrub?
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