A shrub is a classic drink made with fruit, vinegar, and sugar. This Strawberry Balsamic Shrub is slightly sweet, and tangy and so refreshing!
Over the past few months, I've grown to love the tart, slightly sweet, fizzy flavor of fermented beverages. I make my own kombucha and bread kvass, and normally have a few bottles hanging around in the fridge.
But, since everyone else in the family enjoys these drinks too, sometimes I run out before I get a chance to make another batch.
When this happens, I make up a quick batch of shrub syrup, which takes only a couple of hours to make and chill, instead of a few days to ferment. My favorite flavor of shrub syrup is Strawberry Balsamic Shrub with Rosemary.
What is a shrub drink?
A shrub, in this case, refers to a beverage made from shrub syrup. Shrub syrup is a mixture of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. This syrup is then mixed with water, sparkling water, and/or alcohol like vodka, gin, rum, or wine to make a cocktail.
Shrubs first became popular in the 17th century as a way to preserve fruit, before refrigeration was available. But their pleasant, tangy flavor made them regain popularity about 8 years ago in mixology.
Luckily for us, they're super easy to make at home, and what better time to start than summer when fruit is plentiful.
How do you make a shrub drink?
Shrubs can be made using either a hot method or a cold method. I usually opt for the hot method to save time as it's much faster. It's the method I'll be sharing in this recipe. The downside to the hot method is that it imparts a "cooked" flavor on the fruit, and the resulting shrub will not taste as fresh.
The cold method involves soaking the fruit with sugar and vinegar for a much longer period of time, but it does preserve the fresh flavor of the fruit.
What kinds of fruit can you use to make a shrub?
I like to make strawberry-flavored shrubs because I often have extra strawberries hanging around, but you can make them with almost any fruit you like. Berries are great options because they impart lots of color and flavor to the shrub. A tropical-flavored shrub with pineapple and/or mango would make a great rum-based cocktail. And a stone-fruit shrub that uses apricots and/or plums would be delicious too.
You can also change up the vinegar if you like. Balsamic pairs particularly well with strawberries and raspberries. You could also experiment with red or white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. What kind of shrub will you experiment with?
Strawberry Balsamic Shrub Ingredients:
- Granulated sugar
- Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
- Fresh rosemary
- Balsamic vinegar
- Unpasteurized, raw apple cider vinegar
- Club Soda or Sparkling Water
- Optional cocktail ingredients: rum, vodka, or gin. Use 1-2 ounces mixed with shrub syrup and sparkling water to make a light and refreshing cocktail that's perfect for the summer.
How long does shrub syrup last?
The reason shrubs were invented centuries ago was to preserve fruit so it would last throughout the colder months. If shrub syrups are packaged in airtight bottles or jars and refrigerated, they will last about 6 months. You will most likely use it up before it spoils.
Unless you're using sterilized jars or bottles that seal, your homemade shrub should be stored in the fridge rather than in the pantry.
Want more Strawberry recipes?
Strawberry Balsamic Shrub Nutrition Notes:
Like most sweetened beverages, the majority of the calories in this tangy shrub come from added sugars. If you need to limit sugar intake, I don't recommend altering the above syrup recipe. Instead, I'd suggest limiting the portion of syrup you use to make your drink, and drinking it more diluted. Sure it won't be quite as sweet or sour, but the recipe will last you longer!
Strawberry Balsamic Shrub with Rosemary
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 15 Tablespoons unpasturized, raw apple cider vinegar
- plain club soda, to serve (optional)
- Add sugar and water to small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. When sugar is dissolved, add strawberries and rosemary and return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to simmer until strawberries have softened and begun to lose their color, about 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup, gently pressing on the strawberries with a spoon to remove extra syrup. Pour into a glass bottle. Measure 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough apple cider vinegar (about 15 Tablespoons) to equal 1 cup of vinegar total. Add the vinegar to the syrup in the bottle and shake gently to mix. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
- To serve: pour about ¼ cup of the syrup over ice and dilute with cold still or sparkling water to taste. Shrub syrup can also be used to make cocktails and tastes especially good with vodka or gin, or mixed with white wine or sparkling wine.
Nutrition Disclaimer: I try my best to make sure the nutrition information I provide is accurate to provide you with the best information possible. However, due to ingredient discrepancies and other factors, the above nutrition information should be considered an estimation only.
Delicious - love it. Have mixed the shrub with gin and vodka and both make an excellent cocktail. How long can I keep a small bottle of shrub in the refrigerator?
The high acidity and sugar content discourage the growth of mold and other microorganisms, and shrubs have a long shelf life. If they're kept in a tightly sealed jar or bottle, they will last for several months in the fridge.