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Fruit and vinegar shrubs are made today the same way as they were in the colonial days, when lack of refrigeration required creativity to enjoy ripe fruit even during the cold winters. Maybe you’ve noticed them on upscale restaurant menus in the forms of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks with flair, alongside kombucha and switchel. They aren’t difficult to make, and can be especially hydrating.
Shrubs are truly delicious, adding a layered complexity to whatever they’re mixed with. Simply grate the fruit, mix it with a vinegar/sugar solution, and let it sit for a few days. It’s an easy way to preserve your favorite seasonal eats, just like homemade apple butter.
I recently picked up a bushel of local SweeTango apples from my favorite orchard (a juicy cross between a Zestar and Honeycrisp), then began the process.
After 3 days tucked away in the refrigerator, it turned into this sweet and tangy simple syrup, with the brightest apple flavor ever.
I’d compare it to a zingy rendition of classic apple cider. With the juicy, crisp flavor of the apples and subtle tartness from the cider vinegar, it’s fantastic in a bourbon or whiskey cocktail. When you’re looking for something to warm up you by the fire, there are plenty of hot toddy’s that could be made.
Not only did I fall in love with salmon while I was in Alaska, but their vast assortment of wild berries too, far from the raspberries and strawberries you buy in stores. These berries are foraged and have varying names, from crowberries to blue huckleberries, to the real prize – nagoonberries. They’re all relatively tiny, with their own flavor profiles, but generally they have a tart/sweet balance.
As I talked to the locals, each would give a general area where you could stumble upon a few patches, but their own personal “gold mine” was kept a secret. It almost seemed like a faux pas to ask, right up there with talking politics, religion or asking a woman her age.
Like anything wild, they are meant to be savored rather than taken for granted. Just as one has their favorite berry picking spot, they usually have their favorite way to preserve them as well.
As I sat amongst several members of the community waiting for the Wild Harvest Feast to begin, one of the gals reached under the table and pulled out a tall glass bottle with filled with specialty – bright pink, Nagoonberry Shrub syrup. Next from from under the table came a brown bottle with gin.
I felt as if I was one of them, while we passed around the goods, poured ourselves a drink, and chatted about the beauty of the area.
I hadn’t thought of making a shrub syrup from our local fruit until then. I only wish I’d have known how easy it is, this apple shrub recipe needing just 3 ingredients and a little waiting time.
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Yum! So glad I ran across this recipe! I’ve got some apples in my little orchard that want picking. I’m going to make some of them into this! Can’t wait!! Thanks!
so jealous that you have a little orchard! enjoy the shrub. :)
Thanks for sharing! Does it freeze well?
This looks so good! What a fun sweet drink to make when you want to drink something healthy too!
Was this supposed to ferment on the counter first to turn into a shrub? I followed the directions, mixing and putting immediately into the fridge, this would not ferment if refrigerated immediately right? Then I took it out and strained it and tried it. It burned terribly..and I was coughing and coughing. It is straight apple cider vinegar with a stronger apple flavor and sugared…. It burned awful! I would appreciate your insight into this… I made a huge batch and used my organic sugar which is so expensive and I can not use this now unless you can help me, thank-you!
It needs to ferment for about 4 days in the refrigerator.
Shrubs are naturally very tangy and strong, and should be mixed with soda water, or juice. For example, I use 2 tablespoons shrub to one 6 ounce glass of hot tea.
They are not meant to drink straight.
Oh boy, I drank it straight-no wonder I coughed and hacked!! Well now I will make some tea and add it. Haha Thank-you for your quick reply!
I’m so going to do this!
I’ve never heard of a shrub before, but
My tastebuds are tingling😁
Thanks for sharing this recipe and your beautiful photos!
i love making cocktails with shrubs! enjoy. xo
I love your vintage corning ware :)
oh thank you! i found it at an antique shop.
I was wondering if you could use blueberries or figs instead of apples? I have never had a shrub before and it does sound interesting. I would like to try it in different dishes as well.
Yes! Here is a recipe for a blueberry shrub, no-heat similar to this to preserve all the health benefits. http://foodinjars.com/2012/08/drink-week-blueberry-ginger-shrub/
OMG love this!!
I have never had a shrub before, but if I am going to have one, it will for sure be made of apple! My favorite fruit :) I love this!
I think it would totally be your thing Kristie. And I’m sure you have wonderful local apples where you are! I like it because it’s much less finicky than kombucha too.
Love this so much, Amanda! I had no idea that making a shrub would be so doable. My counter is full of local apples right now, I’m excited to get this started and can’t wait to enjoy it with a cocktail soon! xo
Love these photos Amanda! Those apples look perfectly crisp!
thanks Karen. apples straight from the orchard are definitely the best. nothing like that crispness!
Shrub, hey? Never heard of it! BUT I WANT IT! I’m so intrigued by this recipe. So it’s basically like… a semi-fermented fruit syrup?! I need to try this stat! And those apples are the prettiest apples I ever did see! xx
yes, a cold-pressed, semi-fermented fruit syrup is a great way to describe a shrub! they are also a digestive tonic, so good for the gut too. :) xo
This looks so interesting. I would love to try this since we have a ton of fresh picked Honeycrisp apples. Mine will be made into a cocktail for sure!
This sounds amazing! I’ve never heard of this but love the idea. And your Alaska trip sounds wonderful–now I’m craving salmon ;)
All of those berries you were introduced to in Alaska sound amazing! I can just imagine picking them and snacking away on them the whole time. This shrub sounds so perfect for fall. I’ve never made one, but am inspired to give it a try!
I’ve been seeing shrubs everywhere, but your apple variation is making me think I need to just get on with it and make one already :) I love the stories of sharing drinks and food with locals, we can learn so much from others and they way they live life through food! xo
How interesting! And your photos are absolutely gorgeous.
I’ve never made a shrub…I’m just learning what they are. But this one with my fave SweeTango apples is, I’m sure totally amazing!!!