Blackberry (or other berry) Shrub Recipe

No self-respecting forager who appreciates a cool drink on a hot summer day should be without a shrub or two in their pantry. After you’ve turned most of your berry harvest into jam, cordial, and pie, try this easy shrub recipe from The Forager’s Feast.

Shrubs are a way of preserving fruit juices with sugar and vinegar, and then using the result to make both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They were very popular centuries ago, and I’m happy to see them regaining some of that lost popularity because they are very versatile and surprisingly tasty (I say “surprisingly” because most of us are unused to drinking vinegar).

Blackberries aren’t the only fruits that make excellent shrubs. Other berries in the Rubus genus (including my favorite, black raspberry a.k.a. R. occidentalis) are also excellent preserved this way.


Suggestions for using Blackberry Shrub

Once your shrub is ready, try simply mixing it with seltzer or other sparkling water. If you want to go for a cocktail, adding some blackberry shrub to dry sherry is good, with or without some ice.


Blackberry Shrub

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups/355 ml


8 ounces/225 g fresh or frozen blackberries

8 ounces/225 g sugar

1 to 1 1/2 cups/235 ml to 355 ml apple cider or champagne vinegar

  1. Mix together the blackberries and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Stir well and then cover and refrigerate for another 24 hours. But this time the sugar will have drawn most of the liquid out of the blackberries.
  2. Strain out the liquid (you can reserve the blackberry solids to make blackberry vinegar). Measure the liquid and add an equal amount of apple cider or champagne vinegar (or best yet, blackberry vinegar, if you happen to have some on hand).
  3. Put the mixture into a clean glass jar, cover, and put into the refrigerator. Do not use for at least a week, longer if you can convince yourself to wait. Freshly made shrub is, in my opinion, too segregated in taste to be enjoyable. The vinegar and sugar jump out at your taste buds, muting the fruit flavor. But with time the flavors harmonize, giving you an ingredient that is truly pleasurable to work with.

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The Forager’s Feast: How to Identify, Gather, and Prepare Wild Edibles is part field guide covering 50 plants, mushrooms, and seaweeds with a widespread distribution, and part cookbook for turning these wild edibles into delectable dishes.

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