Updated: Sep 1, 2021
what the heck is shrub anyway? simply put it’s a fruit and/or herb infused vinegar with some sorta sweetness added. these are so fun to make and the combinational flavors are endless. we have been visiting family in southeast alaska, and the berries are just starting to bust out on the scene. salmonberries being such a sweet childhood summer memory, I decided to go with that berry. the wild roses are also everywhere and blooming at the same time, it was an easy choice.…
some folks think the word “shrub” is derived from the arabic word sharab which means “to drink” makes sense to me. vinegar is an excellent health tonic and aids in digestion. I like to mix 1/5 of the glass with shrub of choice, fresh flowers or herbs, lemon or lime, and sparkling water. I will also add a dropperful of lemon balm or wild chamomile tincture. now let’s get to making this
the first thing I do in making shrubs is to muddle the berries with sugar. I fill a clean jar around 1/3 full with berries of choice. you of course can add more, I personally wanted this one to be heavy on the roses, so I went with a third for space reasons. I put two tablespoons of sugar over the salmonberries and mashed them up, then covered with a cloth and left on the counter overnight. this is just a slow process syrup basically. It can be on the counter for a day or two, I went with overnight for this batch. you can also just proceed with making the shrub if you want, sometimes the show must go on. I feel like I say this all the time, there are no rules. like all things herbalism, it’s all very individual. make do with what ingredients you have on hand, time available, and plants growing in your bioregion.
the syrupy salmonberries had settled somewhat and I filled the jar 3/4th full with rose petals. I used maple syrup for the sweetener in this particular batch. I like 1:4 ratio sweetener to vinegar. however a 1:3 ratio is fairly popular, and I often end up adding a little extra maple syrup to my drink when mixing it up. if using a metal canning lid line with wax paper or plastic lids work good too. shake often and infuse up to 6 weeks. i usually dip into the shrubs after a few weeks and end up straining at that time. again it’s very individual, I have strained shrubs only one week after infusing and I have also left them infusing longer than six weeks. if you start making and drinking them, you will find your groove.
when I decide to strain, I do so through a cheesecloth. then I put the shrub in a recycled or swing-top bottle. if you are drinking it up quickly you can leave it on the counter otherwise store in the fridge. I am leaving alaska soon, and I will take a little bit of this home with me. to remind me of the salt sea, cool wet forest floors, and a time well spent with people I love. sweet summer blessings to you all.