Herbal Shrubs

Fermented herbal shrubs: fruit and herb-infused vinegar that has the added health benefits of fermentation. Herbal shrubs are great for our health and wellbeing due to the health benefits of cider vinegar, fermentation and the fruit and herbs we use.

You can use all sorts of wild, culinary herbs, spices and fruit. I make my shrubs depending on the season or with a specific medicinal quality in mind. They particularly lend themselves to digestive health. Apples, rosehips, calendula and ginger are a lovely combination in the autumn for digestive health.

You will need

A clean 1-litre jar with lid

Wooden spoon

Muslin or thin cloth to cover your jar opening

Sieve

 Fermented version

3 cups of fruit – chopped up apples and rosehips

1 cup of herbs – Calendula flowers and fresh ginger.

1 Litre. Cider vinegar

1 cup of sugar

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Chop up the fruit and pop it your jar.

Chop up the herbs or/and spices pop them in your jar

Add 1 cup of sugar to the jar.

Cover your fruit, herbs and sugar with the vinegar, leaving about an inch of air space, making sure everything is submerged; this will discourage mould.

Stir, shake, and give the mix a good muddle with a wooden spoon to start to release the juices.

Cover the jar with muslin or a thin cloth and secure with string or an elastic band, don’t put the lid on.

Leave the jar out on the work surface overnight (or for about 12 – 24 hrs.) this will allow the wild yeasts and bacteria to enter the jar.

After a minimum of 12 hrs, remove the muslin and seal the jar with the lid.

Leave the jar out at room temperature for about a week; stir the jar 2-3 times a day. This helps the ingredients break up, improves the release of flavour and helps fermentation.

After a week place the jar in the fridge; keep it there for another 4 -7 days, or leave it out on the work surface, again giving it a regular stir. The fruit and herbs will continue to break down, ferment and add flavour. Putting your shrub in the fridge will slow down fermentation

After about 2 weeks strain your shrub through a muslin lined sieve, returning the leftover syrup back into the jar.

Taste and if you want to sweeten it add your chosen sweetener and mix well.

Your shrub is ready to use.

Note – Your shrub can be strained and drunk at any point, once in the fridge fermentation is slowed down.

If at any point your shrub becomes mouldy, do not drink or use.

How to use – Pour a cordial amount in a glass and top up with herbal infusion, fizzy water, tonic water, you can use it in salad dressings with olive oil or take neat.

A recipe for a less fermented version.

Chop up the fruit, herb/spices and put into your clean jar.

Give the vinegar and sugar/sweetener a good whisk until dissolved and pour over the fruit and herbs, making sure the liquid covers your fruit. Give the jar a good shake, seal and pop in the fridge. This can quietly sit there (with the occasional shake) from a week to a month.

When you are ready strain your vinegar through a muslin lined sieve and re-bottle for use. Keep in the fridge.