Monday, June 19, 2017

Raspberry Fruit Vinegar, also known as Raspberry Shrub

Shrubs, a drinkable form of fruit flavored vinegar, have been popular in contemporary mixology for a while, but they are far, far older.

Historic Shrub - and Why You Should Drink It!

In the 1700s, "shrub" denoted an alcoholic beverage.  By the nineteenth century, "shrub" has moved to a non-alcoholic version.  Perhaps to keep that distinction clear, the name of the drink has changed to "fruit vinegar,' but the change is not always consistent.  "Shrub" still appears as an interchangeable name, although "fruit vinegar" is more preponderant.

My first encounter with the concept of a drinkable vinegar came from The Kentucky Housewife  of 1839, which is still one of my favorite period cookbooks.  

Important Lessons Learned Along the Way

I first tried making shrub a number of years ago, primarily for historic interest.  I learned several valuable (and rather funny) lessons from my first experience.

1.  Strain the shrub.  Keeping the raspberry pulp does not add interest or additional flavor.  Instead, you have seeds and pulp bobbing against your lips as you drink, which is not a pleasant experience.

2.  When served, shrub is diluted.  Quite a bit.  Taste testing it straight is NOT something that will make you or your friends anxious to have more.

3,  Vinegar based drinks are a learned pleasure.  Sip slowly.  Add more water if you need to. And try the drink more than one time.

Why Should You Even Think of Trying Fruit Vinegar/Shrub?

I now find fruit vinegars to be a pleasant drink in the heat of summer.  I sip them slowly and relish the fact that they are not syrupy sweet, which I find to be somewhat cloying.

Although our forebearers didn't understand the physiology and chemistry of electrolytes, vinegar-based drinks are restorative.  Haymakers' drinks such as switchel are also vinegar based.  

Fruit vinegars are historic.  What better way to fend off the heat at a reenactment than drinking a period-correct drink?  They are equally useful in modern settings.

Making Raspberry Vinegar/Shrub

The recipe for shrub is proportional, which is actually easier when working with berries.  


  • raspberries (although strawberries or blackberries work equally well). Because of the price of seasonal fresh berries, I prefer to use frozen raspberries (sugarless)
  • cider vinegar
  • white sugar   


Put the berries (frozen or fresh) into a large glass container.  A metal container may be reactive with the vinegar, so glass is preferable.

Pour in enough vinegar to cover the berries.  Let sit at room temperature for several days.  I normally place the bowl in my microwave to keep it clean and out of the way.

Line a colander with cheesecloth, place over a bowl or pot.  Pour the raspberry/vinegar mixture into the colander and let it drain into the bowl.  When the liquid slows to a slow drip, gather the cheese cloth together and squeeze the raspberry juice into the bowl.  Discard the raspberry pulp.

Measure the raspberry/vinegar liquid and pour into a saucepan. 

 For every quart of liquid, add half a pound of white sugar.   Bring to a boil and boil for several minutes.

Pour off into clean bottle(s).

To serve, pour a small amount into a glass and fill with water.  The quantity is to taste.

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