Friday, September 8, 2017

Summertime Grapefruit Shrub, and Drinking Vinegars

With Winter firmly in our Rear Vision Mirror now in the Queensland sub-tropics, and still enjoying the cool nights of Spring, it's time to start stocking up on fruit based and homemade non-alcoholic mixer drinks for summer. A Shrub for drinking that is, is a way of preserving excess fruit and their juices using Apple Cider Vinegar as the preservative, and sugar. These are also called Drinking Vinegars, where the Acetic Acid in the vinegar acts as the preservative. The best Apple Cider Vinegar to use is Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurised with a "mother', such as Bragg  Apple Cider Vinegar, available from most Health Food shops. The mother are strands of friendly bacteria and proteins that give the vinegar a cloudy appearance and provide the nutrients. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Fermented food, and there is a lot of evidence to support that it is very good for us. However there are a whole variety of other tantalising vinegars available, not to mention fruits, which can be used to create your own interesting shrub recipes. I am sticking with Apple Cider Vinegar for now because of the health benefits and I have stacks of it in my pantry.

Go straight to recipe here:

When I find an interesting recipe steeped in history, half the fun is also researching it's origins and meaning and often these foods and drinks have come and gone in popularity over the centuries, as has the "Shrub". The word shrub is derived from the Arabic word "sarab" for drink or syrup, however "sharab" according to some dictionaries can be used for alcoholic drinks, and to drink is to "sirib" or "surb". Is this also where slurp came from perhaps?  Anyway all of these old words are fairly similar, and it is easy to see how other languages evolved them into the "shrub".

Various historical accounts tell us that early Sailors from colonial America  and England carried drinkable shrub on board their vessels to prevent scurvy. Consequently, the "shrub" was one of America's first drinks, as it was shelf stable without requiring chilling, water was mostly unsafe and the drink was healthy. It also probably gained popularity during the Temperance Movement in the U.S. The invention of refrigeration meant it no longer needed to be used as a preservative without refrigeration. Shrubs have become very popular recently in Cocktail Bars, so I'm told, particularly in the U.S.A. for mixing in cocktails. It also makes a zingy refreshing drink, with just a tablespoon or two  mixed with cold Soda or sparkling Mineral water or just plain cold water on a warm day and the syrup will keep in the refrigerator tightly sealed for about 6 months. Grapefruit Shrub is what I am enjoying right now as I write this. You can be as elegant or as simple as you wish when concocting a shrub, and there are plenty of recipes available.

It is the end of citrus season here at the moment, so the ordinary grapefruit is my choice to include in this drink, however the Ruby Grapefruit when plentiful provides a a beautiful red colour and a unique flavour. When I have enough grapefruit, I juice them , freeze the juice in ice cube trays, which can then be added to cold drinks as required. They add extra flavour to the shrub. Pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits when in season, or berries and ginger also lend themselves beautifully to exotic creations, and combined with a variety of vinegars, you will have a refreshingly cold drink during the hot, summer months. Mix it up and enjoy. Add some alcohol for the Christmas cocktail celebrations and you'll have a winner, not that we want to talk about Christmas just yet.


2 cups Grapefruit, chopped into 8ths
2 cups Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cups White granulated Sugar


Peel your grapefruit and remove the white pith.

 Chop each piece of fruit into 8th's, remove any seeds, and then gradually add to the blender, piece by piece until you have a liquid.

Measure the number of cups of liquid you have and then follow a similar procedure to making jam, however with shrub you add the wonderfully healthy Apple Cider Vinegar as well.

So in a large saucepan, to each cup of fruit add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Turn the fruit, sugar and vinegar together.

Place the saucepan on the stove, and bring the fruit mixture to the boil.

Strain through a fine meshed colander  into a large jug. You will then need to pour your shrub from the jug into other sterilised containers.

Bash the remainder of the fruit pulp in the strainer with a wooden spoon to remove all the liquid and strain extra liquid as well.

The fruit pulp left at the end  is also very tasty, but also very sweet. However at home you could enjoy some of it over ice cream or through yoghurt, in moderation. Waste not, want not.

 I am calling this Shrub and non-alcoholic cocktail, Summer Breeze, after one of my favourite songs with that title by Seals and Crofts.

See the curtains hangin' in the window, in the evenin' on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin' through the window, lets me know everything is alright
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
For the complete words to Summer Breeze click here

Have you ever tried a Shrub and if you haven't do you think you would like to try it?
Have a relaxing and safe weekend everyone.

Best wishes



  1. I really like drinking vinegars, shrubs and kombucha. I haven't made one in a while but I should make some with the grapefruit that my mum always gives me.

  2. I have never heard of these, Pauline. I normally just drink my water kefir. Fascinating reading about the history.


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