• Rhubarb Shrub, a Drinking Vinegar {Recipe}

    by  • May 29, 2012 • Drink, Featured, Local Food, Make it Yourself • 16 Comments

    rhubarb shrubShrubs, also called drinking vinegars, are the new ‘thing’ in the drink and DIY field. Shrubs are a way of preserving fruit by making them into a syrup with vinegar that was widely practiced by Colonial Americans.

    The LA Times wrote this week about using shrubs in cocktails. Studies show that raw vinegar may contribute to weight loss, lowered cholesterol and improved digestion. I discovered last year that apple cider vinegar is a cinch to make at home with a little loving neglect.

    Where does this all lead? To my newest obsession: rhubarb shrub.

    Before you say “I could never just drink vinegar!”, as my sisters recently did,  hear me out. The flavor components of a shrub are acid from the vinegar, sweetness from sugar, and flavor from the fruit. What else relies on acid, sweetness, and fruit to quench thirst? Lemonade, the summer picnic staple. Commercial sodas are also sweet, acidic syrups diluted with fizzy water.

    rhubarb stalks

    How To Make Shrubs At Home

    Because I believe in preserving the potential benefits of the raw cider, I make shrub the ‘cold’ way. Most recipes call for a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar but I prefer less sugar. Since vinegar provides the preservative effect, there’s no reason not to experiment with small batches and find your own perfect ratio.

    rhubarb shrub before aging

    My ideal rhubarb shrub is 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb with 1/3 cup white sugar soaked in 1/2 cup homemade apple cider vinegar. I leave it at room temperature for 2 days and then move it to the fridge. After the taste is full of rhubarb tartness in a few weeks, I strain out the fruit. Serious Eats outlines several other ways to make fruit shrub.

    rhubarb shrub with soda

    I drink my rhubarb shrub over ice with fizzy water from the Soda Stream. Surprisingly enough for a girl who likes to drink like myself, I have not delved into the world of mixing alcohol with shrubs but you know I will soon.

    Are you a fan of drinking vinegars? Have you made a shrub? Tell all in the comments!

    Rhubarb Shrub
    Time: 15 minutes active, 7-14 days aging
    Makes approximately 1 cup

    1/2 cup fresh rhubarb, washed and chopped into one inch pieces
    1/3 cup granulated white sugar
    1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar

    1. Mix all ingredients in a clean glass jar.
    2. Allow to sit at room temperature for 2 days.
    3. Move the the fridge and allow to age for an additional 7-14 days until the shrub achieves the taste you want.
    4. Strain out and discard the fruit. Keep the shrub in the fridge and enjoy diluted with water, club soda, or in a mixed drink.

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. My favorite color is purple, my favorite vegetable is whatever is fresh and local, and my favorite drink is whatever you're pouring. Follow me @racheltayse


    16 Responses to Rhubarb Shrub, a Drinking Vinegar {Recipe}

    1. Nicole
      May 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      I would (and have) just drink vinegar on its own because I love it. Your recipe is definitely different than the one I used, which had me boil the vinegar and rhubarb and only sat a few days at room temp. Oh, and I think the sugar was added after it sat out, which involved another heating process. If I get the urge to try again, I’ll give your recipe a shot.

    2. May 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      This sounds interesting – I bet my mother in law would love this, she’s always drinking apple cider vinegar.

    3. June 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you. I always buy one stalk of rhubarb too many. Now I know why.

    4. Steve Giske
      June 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      I like this, like the above poster, I was following the “boil twice” routine, this for diced ginger (fabulous)! But I think you have a better way, not just from energy saving but also health benefits.

      I live in Seattle outskirts, so rhubarb is insane in our garden, am steeping the first batch now, will let you know!

      Thanks for the advice,


      • June 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        Steve and Nicole, I think the boil method probably allows for more preserving effect (less raw and potentially biotic ingredients) but it does kill the positive properties of the raw vinegar. At least with rhubarb, the flavor transferred just fine without heating.

    5. Steve Giske
      June 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      2 weeks out and the rhubarb shrub is awesome! Just tried tonight with dinner and all had thumbs up, thanks Rachel! Now on to blueberry and blackberry….

    6. June 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      I’m glad you are enjoying it Steve! How are you drinking the shrub – with soda water or as a mixed drink?

      • segiske@yahoo.com
        August 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

        Ha, I was checking back on your site to see the method again and here I am replying a month later! So far using soda or tonic water, not sure what would make a good mixer, probably vodka. I will let you know!

        I currently have ginger, rhubarb and blueberry perking in the fridge, blackberries are almost ready to pick here, so I will try that as well. The plum tree out back looks good this year so I will experiment with a few…


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    10. June 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks for the recipe! I have referred it to several friends. We have an informal garden club and I served it to the ladies. They loved it!
      I also tagged you on my blog, http://vickisgardentips.com/, where I wrote a post called, “The Rhubarb Chronicles”

      Thanks for the great recipe, I really prefer using your fresh rhubarb recipe, not the cooked one.

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    12. June 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      My favorite way to drink this is with a lemon flavored carbonated water, like La Croix or Lillet, a French wine aperitif.

    13. Jeanette
      September 9, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I tried rhubarb “your” way, along with another recipe that had me stirring every six hours for four days. Yours was tastier, and way easier! I also did plum and blueberry. I plan to make rhubarb one more time today, and maybe watermelon. Has anybody tried other fruits?

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