Updated: Feb 24
What in the world is a Shrub? Well, it is a fruit and herb infused vinegar, also known as a drinking vinegar, that can also include a sweetener. It can be added to water for a refreshing drink, added to sparkling water for a fancy sort of mocktail, or sipped from a shot glass straight up.
Different forms of vinegar drinks and "shrubs" can be found all throughout history in many parts of the globe. There are examples of British and American sailors drinking what were then known as "switchels" at sea to prevent and treat scurvy and various other sicknesses. In the Nineteenth century, they were a common drink among field workers, in taverns, and in universities where college students got to mixing them with alcohol. One benefit of a vinegar containing drink on a ship or in times and places where clean water wasn't always readily available are its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
This digestive shrub contains a refreshing mix of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, mandarin oranges, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, licorice and slippery elm bark in apple cider vinegar to promote a healthy digestive tract. Sipping on some twenty minutes before you eat can get your body ready to digest and process the lovely meal that you worked so hard to prepare (or worked hard to bring home from somewhere else as the case may be). I am always surprised by what my kids will drink around here if I call it "juice" so try intensely diluting and sweetening with some extra raw honey for picky kiddos or skeptical grown folk.
Happy Digestion Mandarin Berry Shrub
Prep 15 minutes
Fermentation Time 3 days on the counter, 4 days in the fridge
Makes 2 glass quart jars
1 cup mixed blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
4 cinnamon sticks
3 mandarin oranges, sliced
4 tbs fresh ginger, chopped
4 tsp licorice root
4 tsp slippery elm bark
7 cups raw apple cider vinegar
1. Put berries and herbs in your jars.
2. Smash the contents of your jars with a wooden spoon.
3. Pour in your apple cider vinegar until each jar is almost full, leaving about an inch of space from the top.
4. Place jars in a safe place on your counter with jar lid mostly covering the mouth for about 12 hours. This allows for the introduction of wild yeast into your shrub
5. Cover jar with a square of parchment paper and secure with a lid. Leave on the counter for 3 days, shaking them up a few times a day or as often as you can remember to do it.
6. On day four, replace the parchment paper with a new square (we are being extra careful of mold growth) and place in the fridge. Continue to shake each jar daily for 4 more days.
7. Take the jars from the fridge and strain all the herbs and fruit out by pouring through a fine meshed sieve.
8. Pour The drinking vinegar that you have just created into a clean glass jar and keep it in your fridge for 2-3 months.
9. Pour a shot 20 minutes before a meal to sip, mix with honey, add to water or carbonated water.
“Shrubs and Switchels: A History.” The Ultimate History Project, ultimatehistoryproject.com/shrubs-and-switchels-a-history.html.