This Rhubarb Shrub Recipe is a perfect way to celebrate spring flavors. Made with just a few simple ingredients, it is a fresh, tart, and bright addition to many drinks (alcoholic or non).
What is a shrub, or drinking vinegar?
Most commonly, a shrub is a syrup traditionally made by combining equal amounts of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Its name is derived from the Arabic sharāb, which means “to drink.” Drinking vinegar shrubs act as the base flavoring in a variety of cocktails; the ratios used in shrub syrups are flexible and can be customized to personal preference. This version of the shrub has origins in 17th century England, where it was used to preserve produce in the winter months. As refrigeration came into vogue, shrubs became less popular.
In the early 2010’s, drinking vinegar began becoming more commonplace in American bars. Since shrubs are so acidic, they pair very well with cocktails and can act as a stand-in for bitters.
Ingredients Needed to Make a Shrub
- Fruit of choice (berries, citrus , or of course rhubarb)
- Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- White sugar
How to Make Rhubarb Shrub
- Combine sliced rhubarb with sugar and salt. Pour into a large jar.
- Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two. Place the jar in the fridge overnight.
- Twenty four hours later, add vinegar to the jar, seal, and shake to combine. Let sit at room temperature for a couple more hours.
- Strain rhubarb pieces out of jar and store shrub liquid in a sealable container.
The photo below illustrates what happens in Step 2 of the recipe. While rhubarb/sugar mixture is left to sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, it releases a fair amount of liquid and softens.
How to Use Rhubarb Shrub
The most common use of shrub is of course in a cocktail. It can be mixed with sparkling wine, vodka and seltzer, or gin and juice. In a “mocktail,” the shrub can be mixed with sparkling water and fresh herbs to create a delicious and non-alcoholic beverage.
What To Do With Pickled Rhubarb
After straining the shrub, the leftover rhubarb pieces are still completely edible. You can use pickled rhubarb on top of salads, mixed with yogurt, or on top of oatmeal. You may want to slice it once more as some thicker pieces will not want to soften much. Alternatively, pickled rhubarb can be cooked down into a sauce that could be treated as a chutney.
For another rhubarb recipe, try this Brown Butter Rhubarb Crumble!