Sensational Shrubs!

Story and Photos by Heather Barnes

What is a shrub?
A shrub is a fruit flavored vinegar and a way of preserving seasonal fruit. Drinking vinegar has been around since the Babylonians, who mixed date vinegar with their water to make it safe to drink. Fast-forward to 15th century England, prior to refrigeration, fruit was preserved in barrels of vinegar, and British sailors drank it to prevent scurvy. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, shrubs became even more popular when mixed with liquor. Shrubs were mostly drunk with rum or sparkling wine, with sugar or honey added as a sweetener.

Why drink them?
Vinegar has a cooling effect, and was traditionally used to bring down fevers, and curb your appetite. They add a fun dimension to drinks and also make great vinaigrettes for your salads.

The basic recipe for a shrub is:
1 part fruit
1 part sugar
1.5-2 parts vinegar

You can use any fruit that is sweet, and add any herbs as well, such as ginger, thyme, or rosemary.

Strawberry Thyme Shrub

1 cup strawberries
1 cups sugar
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cups red wine vinegar

Cover the chopped strawberries in the sugar in a bowl. Cover and let sit for 24 hours on the counter. Pour this in a pint size mason jar and fill with red wine vinegar. Cover and let sit on counter for a week. Strain out the fruit and keep in fridge for up to three months!

Drink with 1 part shrub, to 3 parts sparkling water or regular water.

Lemon Lavender Honey Shrub

6 lemons cut in quarters
3 tablespoons dried culinary grade lavender
1 cup honey
2 cups apple cider vinegar

In a bowl, combine chopped lavender, lemons, and honey. Stir well and sit on counter for 24 hours. Since honey is so sticky, you may want to give it a stir every few hours. Add the bowl of lemons and lavender and honey to a jar with the vinegar. Top it off with vinegar and let sit for a week. Give the jar a shake every day to ensure the honey isn’t sitting at the bottom. Serve with lemon slices and garnish with lavender.

Strawberry Pineapple Shrub

1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cup strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1.5-2 cups apple cider vinegar

Chop pineapple and strawberries. Stir with sugar and let sit overnight. Combine in a jar with apple cider vinegar, cover, and let sit on the counter for a week.

Enjoy as a cocktail by adding one part tequila, 1 part of the shrub, and 2 parts mixer like sparkling water.


Heather Barnes is an Austin based photographer and recipe creator. She aims to see beauty in every day moments, living mindfully and soulfully. She has an affinity for all things vintage, including collecting 1950s cookbooks and unique kitchen utensils from the past. Heather loves experimenting with herbs and flowers in her kitchen, and is currently writing her first cookbook. Her motto is, “Stop and smell the flowers along the way.” Find her on Instagram at @aforagersfeast and her blog www.mrsbarnes.com

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