Vibrantly tart and spiked with hibiscus and rose hips, this raspberry shrub is excellent served over ice with mineral water or swirled into a summer cocktail. It's a perfect way to use up an abundance of some berries, and is positively packed with vitamin C.
What's a shrub?
A shrub is a drinking or sipping vinegar that was popular in colonial America, and has since seen a resurgence in interest. Shrubs are made from vinegar, fruit and a sweetener like honey or sugar. In addition, they often contain culinary or medicinal herbs.
Shrubs taste similar to kombucha - or definitively tart, slightly sweet and infused with flavors of fruit, berries and herbs.
Benefits of Raspberry Shrubs
Raspberry shrubs are rich in plant nutrients and antioxidants that help to support systemic wellness. Traditionally, they were used not only to quench your thirst, but as a digestive and as an energizing tonic on hot summer days.
- Apple cider vinegar supports blood sugar balance. Apple cider vinegar helps support blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity [mfn]Johnston, et al. (2004)Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care.[/mfn]
- It also helps support liver health. Fruit vinegars like apple cider vinegar help to support liver health in animal studies[mfn]Bouazza, A., et al. (2016) Effect of fruit vinegars on liver damage and oxidative stress in high-fat-fed rats. Pharmaceutical Biology[/mfn]
- Raspberries are high in antioxidants and plant nutrients like anthocyanins which give them their brilliant red color. These phytonutrients can combat oxidative stress, and support heart and neurological health[mfn]Burton-Freeman, B. M., et al. (2016). Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links. Advances in nutrition [/mfn]
- Rose hips are high in vitamin C. Just an ounce of rosehips contain about 200% of the daily value for vitamin C[mfn]Rose Hip Nutrition Facts, NutritionData.com[/mfn], a nutrient that supports skin, bone and tissue health[mfn]Vitamin C. Medlineplus.[/mfn]
- Shrubs are deeply hydrating. Because they're served diluted in water and contain trace minerals, they're deeply hydrating.
- They're also energizing. Shrubs were traditionally used as an energizing tonic, and an easy way to use consume gentle, medicinal herbs.
What's in raspberry shrub?
In addition to vinegar and raspberries, a raspberry shrub needs a sweetener. Most shrubs call for equal amounts of vinegar and sugar. However, the soft floral sweetness of honey pairs beautifully with raspberries. And since honey's sweeter than sugar, I recommend using ¾ cup honey for every cup of vinegar.
In addition to raspberries, vinegar and honey, I like to add herbs to my shrub. Hibiscus flower gives the shrub a very deep, dark maroon color that, when diluted with water, becomes a vibrant red. While rose hips amplify the vinegar's tartness with a hit of vitamin C.
Pro Tip: You can find raspberries at your farmers market during middle to late summer. And you can order organic hibiscus flowers and rose hips online at Mountain Rose Herbs along with other culinary and medicinal herbs.
Tips for making raspberry shrub.
Making a raspberry shrub is easy. You only need to mash berries in a jar, drop in a few herbs and cover them with apple cider vinegar. Then you wait a few weeks, shaking the jar daily to distribute the herbs before straining and swirling in a bit of honey. While it's easy to make, there's a few tips to keep in mind.
- Use fresh, good-tasting raspberries. Some cooks recommend using overripe fruit or fruit just past its prime for making shrubs. But, remember that your shrub will only be as good-tasting as the ingredients you put into it. This is especially important considering it will sit in vinegar for upwards of 2 weeks. So use fresh, good-tasting berries.
- Muddle your raspberries. You can leave your berries whole, but if you muddle them or crush them lightly with a fork, you'll be able to extract the berries' flavor more effectively..
- Use vinegar with at least 5% acidity. Vinegar that's less acidic or more dilute won't preserve the shrub or pull nutrients from the herbs as effectively as a more acidic vinegar.
- Seal the jar with a non-reactive lid. Vinegar can corrode metal, so seal the jar with a plastic lid or glass lid with a rubber seal (like these). If you only have metal lids, slip a piece of wax paper over the jar before sealing it with the lid to prevent corrosion.
- Shake the jar daily. In traditional herbalism, shaking the jars will help energize your tonic. It will also prevent the berries and herbs from packing on the bottom of the jar. And that means better distribution of ingredients, and, ultimately, better flavor.
- Strain gently through a fine-mesh strainer without pressing. While you'll extract more infused vinegar for your shrub if you press the ingredients through a strainer, it will also create sediment. So strain it without pressing until it stops dripping.
How to Use It
Traditionally, you dilute shrubs with water and sip them as a flavorful, energizing tonic. So, splash a few tablespoons of raspberry shrub into an icy glass of sparkling water. Or add it to a cocktail.
But, since they're a vinegar-based tonic, you can use them in place of vinegar in most recipes. That means they make an excellent infused vinegar for a vinaigrette, salad dressing or to splash over roasted vegetables for a hit of acidity.
Raspberry Shrub Recipe
- Quart-sized Jar
- Place the raspberries into a jar, and then crush them lightly with a fork. Drop in the hibiscus flowers and rose hips. Pour the vinegar over the berries and herbs. Seal the jar tightly with a non-reactive lid, and set it on the counter.
- Allow the raspberries and herbs to infuse the vinegar for 2 weeks. Shake the jar twice daily.
- After two weeks, the vinegar should be a bright, deep red. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl or pitcher, and then pour the vinegar through the sieve and into the bowl. Allow the vinegar to strain on its own, without pressing, until it stops dripping - about ½ hour. Discard the solids.
- Whisk the honey into the vinegar, and then bottle. Store at room temperature up to 6 weeks, or store in the fridge up to 6 months.