Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (2024)

Published: by Dolly | Little Home in the Making · This post may contain affiliate links · Leave a Comment

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This 3 ingredient recipe for a traditional blueberry shrub is over 300 years old! Perfect for adding to your favorite co*cktails, or serving with some sparkling water for a delightfully refreshing drink. Also known as drinking vinegar, this is a simple way to preserve blueberries in the short term, paired with the benefits of honey and apple cider vinegar.

Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (1)

The original fruit shrubs arose from the popular fruit cordials of the 15th century, but started to take shape around the 1700's when a mixture of fruit, vinegar, and honey (or other natural sweetener) was used to preserve fruit and add flavor to beverages.

Before refrigeration, fermentation, pickling, and the use of sugar and/or acids were common ways to preserve foods. Shrubs (also known as drinking vinegars) arose out of the need to preserve food, creating a way to retain the flavor of fruit in a mixture of honey and vinegar to last for many months. This was then added to carbonated water (invented in the later part of the 18th century) to create a delicious sparkling beverage.

Fruit shrubs (like this blueberry shrub) were also used to craft co*cktails, and were an excellent way to preserve seasonal or foraged fruit (although jams and jellies like my Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam were popular too). These days, our standard for both food quality and refrigeration are much different, so you can expect your fruit shrub to last anywhere from 2-6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Reasons to Love This Recipe

  1. It effectively preserves fruit for short term storage, adding a delicious blueberry flavor to your favorite co*cktails or sparkling water.
  2. It contains both honey and apple cider vinegar, both of which have known health benefits.
  3. Naturally sweetened - Because a fruit shrub uses honey, maple syrup, or molasses, it's a naturally sweetened drink that tastes great too.
  4. A great way to add fruit flavor to the second fermentation of your homemade kombucha or water kefir!


Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (2)
  • Blueberries: I highly recommend locating wild blueberries since they are smaller and sweeter, but larger cultivated blueberries are perfectly fine and delicious! That's what I used for this recipe. You could even use frozen if you plan on using the blueberry shrub syrup within the next week or so.
  • Honey or Maple Syrup: You'll need a good quality natural sweetener to make this centuries old beverage. I prefer honey or maple syrup, but you could use cane sugar for a modern spin. Molasses could also be used but the flavor is very strong.
  • Vinegar: Any kind of vinegar can be used, but the best flavor and health benefits come from raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. I love the Bragg's brand of ACV.
  • Sparkling water: Also known as carbonated water, seltzer, club soda, or Perrier. This is for serving your finished blueberry shrub syrup.

Equipment and Tools:

  • Wide mouth jar
  • Jar lid
  • Pounding tool - You can use a kraut pounder, or even the end of a wooden spoon and some elbow grease!
  • Mesh strainer - You need a fine mesh strainer (I use this one) to strain the blueberries off and reserve the liquid. A typical colander will let through small pieces of mashed fruit.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub

Making a fruit shrub is incredibly easy and requires just about 10 minutes of prep work. After a brief chilling, your shrub will be ready to strain and enjoy in no time at all!

To get started, add your berries to a clean wide mouth mason jar OR glass jar with a lid. Mash the fruit until well broken down. The goal is to completely macerate the blueberries.

Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (3)

Next add in the vinegar and your sweetener of choice. Traditionally honey, maple syrup or molasses was used. You could use organic cane sugar if you prefer.

Finally, stir everything together to distribute the honey and apple cider vinegar.

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Chilling and Resting

Once everything has been stirred together, add a lid to the jar and place in the fridge (or the counter if only resting 1-2 hours).

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You'll want the mixture to chill/rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to begin to develop, but I highly recommend waiting for 24 hours. This ensures the honey and vinegar is fully infused with the flavor from the blueberries.

Straining the Mixture

Once the blueberry shrub mixture has rested for at least 1 hour (or up to 48 hours), you're ready to strain and reserve the liquid.

Start off by setting a fine mesh strainer over a glass measuring cup or bowl. Pour the shrub mixture through the strainer. The macerated blueberries will collect in the strainer, while the infused liquid (blueberry shrub syrup) will collect below.

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The collected liquid is the blueberry shrub syrup, while the mashed blueberries can be composted, given to chickens, or added to smoothies and yogurt (if you don't mind the stronger taste of ACV).

Transfer the syrup to a clean airtight bottle or jar and store in the fridge for 2-6 weeks. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage such as an "off" smell, mold, or any other signs of bacterial.

Preparing a Blueberry Shrub Drink

Once you have prepared your blueberry shrub syrup, you're ready to make an easy drink (or co*cktail) any time.

The most basic way of preparing a blueberry shrub drink though is with sparking water!

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To prepare a sparkling beverage, simply use 1-2 tablespoons of fruit shrub syrup for every 1 cup of carbonated water. First add the syrup to the jar, then add in the carbonated water. Give it a gentle stir and garnish with mint, lemon, or additional fresh blueberries.

Serve and enjoy!

Adding Aromatics

If you would like, you can create variations of the basic shrub recipe and add your favorite aromatics right into the fruit mixture (prior to straining). This will infuse the liquid with your preferred taste, and creates a delicious and complex flavor.

Here are a few popular additions:

  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Lemon balm
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (8)

Tips for Success

  • Use good quality, fresh berries with no signs of damage or mold. This will ensure you get the longest storage life from your finished blueberry shrub syrup.
  • Many fruits (including blueberries) can stain your clothes easily. Since we are mashing them, take care to cover your clothes with an apron and use a high sided jar or bowl to minimize mess.
  • You leftover blueberry mash doesn't have to be thrown away! - You can give it to your chickens, toss small amounts into smoothies, serve over yogurt, or compost it.

More Traditional Recipes

  • Haymaker's Punch (Switchel)
  • Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam (No Pectin Needed)
  • How to Make Chicken Broth
  • Homemade Sourdough Croutons
Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (9)

Traditional Blueberry Shrub

Yield: Approximately 2 ½ cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

This blueberry shrub is perfect for adding to your favorite co*cktails, or serving with some sparkling water for a delightfully refreshing drink.


  • 1 cup mashed blueberries (approximately 1 ¼-1 ½ cups whole)
  • 1 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Carbonated water, for serving


  1. Add the blueberries to a wide-mouth mason jar or glass container with a lid.
  2. Mash the blueberries with a kraut pounder or the end of a wooden spoon until they are completely macerated and broken down.
  3. Pour in the honey (or maple syrup) and apple cider vinegar and stir until well combined.
  4. Add a lid to your shrub and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour, or up to a full 24-48 hours. This provides an opportunity for the flavors to mingle and for the fruit to break down further.
  5. Once the shrub has chilled, set a fine mesh strainer over a glass bowl or measuring cup and pour the mixture through. The blueberries will catch in the strainer, with the shrub base catching in the bowl below.
  6. Add the finished shrub to an airtight jar or bottle and store for 2-6 weeks. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage.
  7. To prepare a blueberry shrub drink, use 1-2 tablespoons of the shrub mixture for every 1 cup of carbonated water. Pour the shrub into the bottom of the glass and top off with the sparkling water, stirring gently to combine.
  8. Serve with lemon slices or mint sprigs and enjoy!


Carbonated Water: This can be made using a Sodastream, or you can purchase it in bottles at your local grocery store. It comes under various labels including club soda, sparkling water, seltzer, or fizzy water. A popular name brand is Perrier.

Other fruits: You can make this easy shrub recipe with any fruits, although berries tend to work best. Just keep the ratio of 1 part fruit (measure once mashed), 1 part honey or maple syrup, and 1 part vinegar and you can get as creative as you like.

Aromatics: Feel free to include your favorite aromatic herbs or spices to add interesting flavor combinations. Here are a few of the most popular:

  • Ginger
    Lemon balm
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 10Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 122Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below and let us know how it went! Or tag me @littlehomeinthemaking on Instagram!

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More Beverage Recipes

  • Water Kefir Lemonade
  • Haymaker's Punch (or Switchel)
  • How to Make Goats Milk Kefir
  • How to Do a Kefir Second Fermentation {+ Flavoring Kefir}

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Traditional Blueberry Shrub Recipe (2024)


What kind of vinegar do you use for shrubs? ›

Vinegar: The majority of shrubs are made with apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Some use balsamic vinegar. While distilled white vinegar is fine, the extra flavors of the other options are preferred.

How long does homemade shrub last? ›

Refrigerate, shaking bottle periodically until sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 week. The shrub can be refrigerated for up to 1 year; the acid and sugar preserves the syrup and keeps it tasting bright and fresh.

Is shrub a fermented drink? ›

The first American shrubs were made by taking fruit, fermenting it with sugar and then adding vinegar and other spices. The colonists called the mixtures “drinking vinegars,” and they were extremely popular before refrigeration or industrially produced foods were prevalent as a common way to preserve fruit.

How do you use shrub syrup? ›

Syrups are only sweet, but shrubs have both sweet and tart. We recommend adding equal parts shrub concentrate to spirit. If adding juice or simple syrup, reduce the amount of syrup and add a lemon juice or bitters to cut the sweetness. Add fresh fruit, herbs, or vegetables to round out your drink.

Is it OK to spray vinegar on plants? ›

Vinegar is non-selective, meaning it will damage any plants and turf grass it touches, not just the weeds you are trying to kill. When you spray the vinegar onto weeds, make sure it isn't hitting other plants. If that isn't possible, paint the vinegar onto the weeds with a brush.

How long do shrubs last vinegar? ›

HOW LONG WILL A SHRUB LAST? Shrubs are vinegar-based, which means they have a very long shelf life. We say that our shrubs are good by two years from production time.

How do you revive a dying shrub? ›

Water your shrub thoroughly to help with the growth process, and then prune out any lingering dead stems that didn't sprout new leaves. Saturated soil surrounding your brown shrubs is a sign of overwatering. Let up on the hydration until the soil dries out.

How do you rejuvenate shrubs? ›

Proper pruning can renew or rejuvenate overgrown, deciduous shrubs. One option is to prune them back over a three-year period. Begin by removing one-third of the largest, oldest stems at ground level in late winter/early spring (March or early April).

Is drinking shrub good for you? ›

“The beauty of shrubs is not just that they're simple to make at home, and form the basis of beautiful fruity drinks, but that the combination of live, unpasteurised fruit and the probiotic goodness of apple cider vinegar has huge benefits for your gut health.

How much alcohol is in shrub? ›

This strawberry shrub is pretty and easy to make, and even makes for a great gift. Unlike kombucha, there is no alcohol in a shrub, so this makes a great mixer to give to anyone, whether or not they drink alcohol! This will make around 8 oz.

What alcohol is in a shrub? ›

In terms of mixed drinks, shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy and mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.

Can you drink shrub by itself? ›

Shrubs are mixers, which means they're an ingredient in a drink, not something you would normally drink on its own. Luckily, drinking shrubs are versatile, so they pair well with lots of other ingredients. Overall, we recommend using a 1:5 ratio of shrub to another (or several) ingredient(s).

What is the difference between bitters and shrubs? ›

Bitters are made with a pure grain spirit inundated with bittering agents like fruit peels, spices, or funky stuff like bark or cassia. Tinctures act as straight-up botanical, fruit, or vegetable infusions without any bitterness. A shrub adds sugar to fruit juice and uses vinegar to cut the sweetness.

Does shrub need to be refrigerated? ›

WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE ON ELEMENT [SHRUB]® AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST ONCE I OPEN IT? Our shrubs will keep for 24 months unopened and unrefrigerated (see best by date on bottle). Once you open them, we do recommend keeping them in the fridge.

Which vinegar to use for plants? ›

Vinegar as an herbicide: White vinegar which is about 5% acetic acid and does a nice job of burning the tops of plants, but not their roots – so a larger weed will live right through a spray even though it will look bad right after the spray. You can buy 20% acetic acid.

What kind of vinegar do you spray on plants? ›

You have to be careful when spraying it around certain plants as it may be harmful to some, but when used on those pesky hard-to-kill weeds, they will disappear in two to three days' time. Combine a gallon of white vinegar, one cup of salt, and a couple tablespoons of dish soap to get the job done.

Can I spray vinegar on my shrubs? ›

Vinegar is used as a contact herbicide. It scorches the foliage on whatever it hits. It will not kill shrubs, but can burn any leaves it is sprayed on.

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