Haymaker's Switchel


from Herbal Harvest Collection, Herb Society of America South Texas Unit


1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup molasses

3/4 cup cider vinegar

2 quarts water


Mix all ingredients well.  Chill and serve.


Recipes

What are Shrubs?

A shrub is a non-alcoholic syrup made of a combination of concentrated fruits, aromatics, sugar and vinegar. This sweet. yet acidic mixer is traditionally enjoyed as a component of a mixed drink with soda water.

The word shrub is derived from the Arabic word sharāb, which means "to drink". These syrups, common in colonial America, were used to make delightful drinks. When refrigeration became common, the use of shrubs to preserve fruit dropped off.

Shrubs vs. Switchels vs. Oxymels
A switchel (also called a Haymaker's Punch or Ginger Water) is similar to a shrub, but instead of using fruit as a main flavoring ingredient, it uses ginger. Typically switchel is sweetened with a more intense sweetener like molasses or maple syrup.

​An oxymel is a drink made from vinegar, honey and herbal. Oxymel was originally used as a cure-all tonic, but is now showing up in cocktails.

Ideas for Flavor Pairing
• Apple Mint and Strawberry
• Lime and Ginger
• Basil and Peach
• Lavender and Blueberry
• Rosemary, Lemon and Blueberry
• Sage, Lemon Verbena and Blackberry
• Rose and Raspberry
• Rose-Scented Geranium and Raspberry
• Blood Orange and Blackberry
• Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Mixed Berries
• Peppermint and Cherry
• Cinnamon and Apple
• Cinnamon, Clove and Elderberry
• Thyme and Grapefruit
• Thyme and Raspberry
• Shiso and Rapsberry
• The possibilities are endless!

Shrubs can add depth and complexity to your drinks through a blend of sweet, savory and tart notes. Shrub syrups pair well with spirits, spakling wine and beer. Non-tipplers enjoy them with sparkling water or soda water. They can also be used as the acidic ingredient for any marinade or vinaigrette.

There are two methods for making a shrub: hot - with the fresh fruit simmered in a simple syrup - and cold - with the fresh fruit mixed with sugar and left to macerate for several days. Some purists will say that the hot method is not the true method. It is a bit faster, so if you're short on time, it's a fine shortcut. All of the recipes included here are using the cold method.

The recipe for a shrub is a quite simple ratio of fruit to sugar to vinegar - approximately 1/2 pound chopped fruit: 1 cup sugar: 1 cup vinegar (and for a heated process shrub, add additionally 1 cup water).

Most any fruit will work well (but sources consulted recommend not using the heated process for watery melons.) If using a citrus fruit, be sure to include the zest.

Most vinegars will work in a shrub, but plain white vinegar is best avoided because the flavor is too sharp. Apple cider, white or red wine, rice and Champagne vinegars all work quite nicely. Balsamic vinegar works, but only a healthy splash is needed and the remainder should be cider or wine vinegar.

White or brown sugar can be used, Honey, maple syrup and agave nectar can also be used. Molasses is best avoided because the flavor is so strong.​​

Blueberry Lavender Shrub


1 pint blueberries

8-10 lavender sprigs

1 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Place berries and sugar in a bowl.  Crush and stir to combine.  Cover bowl and allow to macerate in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.


Place lavender in a non-reactive container and cover with vinegar.  Store in a cool, dark place for 2 days.  Fridge is okay but not necessary.


Strain berries to remove solids.  Strain vinegar into the same bowl.


Pour mixture to a jar, seal, and shake.  Refrigerate for a week before using.

Spicy Pineapple Shrub


2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (can include peels/trimmings)

1 cup sugar

1 thumb of ginger, sliced

1 thumb of turmeric, sliced

20 allspice berries

4 cloves

4 black peppercorns

1 serrano chili, sliced; remove seeds and membrane for less heat

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Stir pineapple and sugar together.  Let sit in the refrigerator for a day.


On day 2, add spices.  Stir and allow to sit in the refrigerator for another day.


On day 3, add the vinegar.   Mix well and let steep 3 more days. 


Strain out the solids, pressing to extract the syrup.  Pour the vinegar/juice through a second time if you have undissolved sugars to rinse through.


Store in a clean, sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 week before using.


Caribbean Spiced Hibiscus Shrub


For Hibiscus Tea

2 cups dried roselle

8 cups water

1-1/2 cup demarera sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tsp  allspice berries

2 cardamom pods

6 whole cloves

1/3 cup ginger, sliced and pounded

Peel/zest of 1 orange, 1 lime and 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon


For Shrub

3 cups of strained tea

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Bring water, roselle and sugar to a boil, then cover and remove from heat.


Add spices, citrus peel and lemon juice.  Allow to cool.  Steep for 3 days.  Strain and discard solids.


Decant 3 cups of strained tea.  Add vinegar and sugar to the tea.  Pour into a jar.  Refrigerate.


Use remaining tea at another time with or without the addition of vinegar and extra sugar.

Herbal Shrubs

Raspberry Rose Shrub


2 cups raspberries

1/4 cup dried rose petals

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup honey

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Place berries, rose petals, basil and vinegar in a 1 quart Mason jar.  Crush and stir to combine.  Cover tightly fastened cheese cloth and allow to steep on the counter for a day. Remove cheesecloth.  Cover with parchment and a lid.  Shake every day for the next 3 days to release fermentation and meld flavors.


Strain to remove solids..


Pour mixture to a clean jar, seal, and refrigerate.​


Blackberry Lime Shrub


1-1/2 cups blackberries

Zest of 4 limes or substitute

1/4 cup Makrut Lime leaves, thinly sliced

1 cup raw cane sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Place berries, zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Crush and stir to combine.  Cover bowl and allow to macerate in  the refrigerator for a day.


Strain to remove solids.


Add vinegar to the strained syrup.If sugar is clinging to the berry solids, pour vinegar mixture through fruit solids to dissolve the sugar.  Repeat as necessary.


Pour mixture to a jar, seal and shake.  Refrigerate for a week before using.


Submitted by Debbie Gordon and Benée Curtis

Carrot Ginger Shrub


2 lbs carrots

2 tbsp grated ginger

1 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar


Wash/scrub carrots.  Peel if you want but it's not necessary.  Puree carrots.  Place carrot puree and grated ginger in a non-reactive container.  Add vinegar and stir to combine.  Cover and store in a cool, dark place for 2 days.  Refrigeration is okay but not necessary.


Place mixture in a fine sieve and press to strain out all solids.


Pour mixture to a jar.  Add sugar.  Shake to combine.  Seal and refrigerate.

Strawberry Basil Shrub


2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup basil leaves, packed

1 cup turbinado sugar

1 cup champange or apple cider vinegar


Muddle berries, basil and sugar.  Let sit at room temp for 2 hours. 


Add the champagne vinegar.  Muddle well.


Transfer to a quart jar.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 days.  After 2 days, open the jar and muddle again, very well.  Strain and discard the solids, pressing as much through as possible with your hands.


Store in a clean, sealed container in the refrigerator.

References


Dietsch, Michael. Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times.  Countryman Press: New York. 2016.


Herb Society of America South Texas Unit. Herbal Harvest Collection, D. Armstrong: Houston, TX, 1995.


Lange, Caroline. Food52.  How to Make Shrubs (aka Drinking Vinegars) Without a Recipe.  19 June 2019. https://food52.com/blog/13831-how-to-make-shrubs-aka-drinking-vinegars-without-a-recipe. Accessed  19 February 2024.


Mossati, Corinne. Cocktails and Bars.  Shrub, Oxymel & Switchel: Ann Essential Guide to Drinking Vinegars. 3 March 2021.  https://cocktailsandbars.com/shrub-oxymel-switchel/. Accessed 19 February 2024.