Recipe: Fruit shrubs

After all the excess of Christmas, New Zealand chef Emma Galloway provides a refreshing alternative to the celebratory season bubbles for children and adults with a shrub — aka a drinking vinegar — recipe.
Tart and zingy all at once, shrubs are a great way to harness the seasonal flavours of fruit, and they are a beautiful and natural alternative to fizzy drinks.You can use almost any fruit — the combinations of fruit with spices, herbs or flowers are endless! To get the most beneficial bacteria, look out for good-quality (preferably locally made) raw, organic, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar.

Makes: about 1 litre (4 cups) syrup


  • 1kg fruit, finely sliced
  • 400g (2 cups) golden caster sugar
  • 287.5ml (11½ cups) good quality apple cider vinegar

Combine sliced fruit and sugar in a glass bowl or container. Mix well, cover and set aside on the benchtop for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer to the fridge and leave for 4-5 days. If you remember, give it a stir once a day. You’ll find that the juice from the fruit will mingle with the sugar to create a lovely fruit syrup.

After 4-5 days, strain mixture through a fine sieve, saving the syrup and composting the fruit. (I’ve heard of people using the leftover fruit to cook with, but I personally find it way too sweet. You decide.)

Combine syrup and apple cider vinegar (250ml/1 cup if you like a less-prominent vinegar flavour, or 375ml/1½ cups if you like it stronger), then pour into a glass jar or bottle, seal and refrigerate for another 1-2 days before using. (You can serve it straight away, but I find the flavour is much nicer if its had a little time to mingle).

To serve, pour 2-4 tablespoons syrup into a glass and top up with soda/sparkling water. Add ice, if you like. The syrup will keep indefinitely in the fridge.


Strawberry & chamomile shrub (pictured): Use 1kg strawberries, hulled and sliced, and 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers or the contents of 2 chamomile tea bags. Follow instructions as above.

Plum, cardamom & black pepper shrub: Use 1kg plums, stones removed and finely sliced, and 1 teaspoon each cardamom seeds and black peppercorns, roughly crushed. Follow instructions as above.

Feijoa & ginger shrub: Use 1kg feijoas (pineapple guavas), ends trimmed but unpeeled, and 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger. Follow instructions as above.

Rhubarb & ginger shrub (pictured): To balance out the tartness of rhubarb, this shrub has slightly different ratios than fruit shrubs. Use 500g rhubarb (about 4-5 big stalks), ends trimmed and stalks finely sliced, 400g (2 cups) unrefined raw sugar and 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger. Follow the recipe above to make the syrup, then strain and mix with 250ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar. Makes approximately 500ml (2 cups) syrup.

Tip: if you go through lots of sparkling or soda water, maybe invest in a soda machine to cut down on plastic waste.


The book: My Darling Lemon Thyme Every Day, Emma Galloway, HarperCollins, RRP $60


Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter