RHUBARB & RASPBERRY SHRUB (Sweet Vinegar Cordial)

December 1st, 2022

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Today I am sharing a summertime drink, which also makes a wonderful homemade edible gift for this season of giving. If you are new to this drink called shrub, and no it is not a small tree, it is a sweet drinking vinegar used in a similar way to cordial. I became a convert to this drink a few summers back. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I often feel I miss out on the drinks front. This is the perfect solution and I make it en-masse at this time of year for summer hydrating and bottling for gifting.

The shrub can be made with many different fruits (sub about 800g of plums, berries, peaches, etc, in the recipe below), but my all-time favourite combination is rhubarb and raspberry. And as luck would have it I am flush in rhubarb at the moment. I have mentioned here before that I haven’t had much luck at growing it, or at least to the size and colour I would like, so I often raid my sister’s garden who grows it, or more accurately, has the most wonderful patch of untended wild rhubarb.

Then the other day the phone rang – this was quite odd as our landline rarely rings these days, but I could see it was a local number so answered it. “Would you like some rhubarb?” a man at the other end asked me. As the story goes, his wife wanted him to grow rhubarb then decided she didn’t like it very much and now he gives most of it away. We organised a rendezvous, which to my delight resulted in a large bag of massive rhubarb stalks.

As I knew I couldn’t use all the rhubarb at once I chopped half of it into 2cm pieces and froze it (raw) into free-flow bags for use in cooking. Here are some recipes I have shared in recent years using rhubarb, scroll down for the best-ever summer drink.

More rhubarb recipes:

Raspberry & Rhubarb Shrub

I love the combination of rhubarb and berries. In this drink, raspberries bring a delightful floral note with the unique astringency of rhubarb. A shrub is essentially a vinegar-based cordial and a wonderful thirst quencher on a hot summer day or used as a mixer in cocktails. I usually make a double batch, some for our fridge and a few bottles for gifting. 
Servings 700 ml
Prep Time 30 minutes
Infusing time 2 days

Ingredients

  • 500 g fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 4-6 large rhubarb stalks, about 300g, cut into 1cm lengths
  • 200 g 1 cup sugar or mild honey
  • 250 ml apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Place the raspberries and rhubarb into a bowl. Add the sugar or honey and muddle together to combine and mash the raspberries into the sugar. Cover and place into the fridge for 24-48 hours. Stir and mash the fruit against the side of the bowl every so often during this time.
  • Strain the mixture through a sieve into a jug using the back of a spoon to press out as much syrup as possible. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Pour into small 150-250ml bottles. Label for gifting.
  • The shrub will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. Add 1-2 tbsp shrub to a glass and top up with sparkling water, or use as a mixer in a cocktail.

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My new cookbook The Homemade Table is now available at bookstores around Aotearoa NZ, plus order signed copies HERE

(Note: I am not sending to Australia or overseas at this time – copies can be ordered HERE).

Join the Conversation

  1. Bridget Bruorton says:

    Hi Nicola,
    Do you not have to cook the rhubarb in the cordial recipe?
    Thanks
    Bridget

    1. Hi Bridget
      It is used raw and the sugar softens and extracts the flavour from the fruit before it is strained.
      Enjoy
      Nicola

  2. Love this idea for a cocktail alternative – thanks! I over-fermented my last batch of kombucha… Are there any downsides of using this kombucha vinegar in place of the cider vinegar in this recipe?

    1. Hi Gina, it is a delicious drink, a little different to the usual sweet cordial. I think that would be OK, I wouldn’t recommend kombucha vinegar for pickles as the acid level may not be high enough to preserve but for this drink that is stored in the fridge, I think it would be fine. A good use for the over-fermented buch. Enjoy!

  3. Hello, I love your new recipe book. I wondered if you can do anything to the shrub to make it shelf stable? Thank you

    1. Hi Kate, you could ‘heat treat’ the full bottles in a water bath preserver or pour the piping hot shrub into hot sterilised jars. If you have either of my recent cookbooks I explain how to preserve safely in detail plus find some info on my website here. Heating the vinegar will of course destroy the goodness of live apple cider vinegar but it will make the shrub shelf stable.

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