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Lemon Balm Muscadine Shrub

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Did you stumble upon this post hoping for some advice on growing grapes into a shrub shape? No luck! A shrub is actually an old-timey drink also known as “drinking vinegar.”

To make a shrub, vinegar is generally paired with fruits, sugar, and even flavorful herbs to create a concentrate that can be stored for weeks in the fridge. Shrubs are a wonderful alternative to high-sugar fruit juices and sodas, and the kids can help make them for an added incentive.

Where did Fruit Shrubs originate?

According to Anna’s Kitchen, these vinegar-infused drinks were used as far back as Babylonian times where a date-vinegar mix helped to ensure water was safe to drink. More commonly, it was used aboard ships in the 15th century to ward off scurvy, the deficiency of Vitamin C so common to sailors.

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Shrubs have also been a great way to preserve fruits in times before refrigeration, which is why you may have never heard of them until now. Shrubs are very common, mainly in bars, as a mix-in for different types of liquor.

Why make homemade shrub?

First, why not? Many wellness sites tout the claims that apple cider vinegar is wonderful for a number of health reasons. I’m not a doctor, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I cannot claim any of that is true. But to be honest, I enjoy the taste of diluted ACV in drinks.

Secondly, they could be a good alternative to a soda habit. I gave up soft drinks years ago for Lent, and when I went to drink one after the 40 days were up… I found that Coke no longer tasted good. Who knew? So, drinks like shrubs and kombucha are fun and healthful ways I add in flavored drinks without mountains of sugar and chemicals.

Finally, if you’re making a fruit shrub at home with herbs, there are documented health benefits for adding these into the diet. Lemon balm has been linked to anxiety relief and other calming properties, and who couldn’t use more of that. For an easy recipe, check out my Lemon Balm Simple Syrup, which can be added to tea, water, or just about any drink!

This is also a good chance to use homegrown herbs and grapes if you have them. I have all kind of articles on growing herbs as well as muscadine grapes, so be sure to check them out!

Lemon Balm Muscadine Shrub Ingredients

Easy Fruit and Herb Shrub Recipe

  1. Place clean grapes in a large pot (If grapes were store bought, be sure to use a good quality fruit spray to clean them.) Cover the grapes with water and mash until grapes are thoroughly broken up.
  2. Bring grapes and water to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. (Mash grapes more during the cooking process if needed.)
  3. Remove pot from heat. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon balm, and sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Let mixture sit overnight either in the pot with a lid or you can move to the fridge.
  5. In the morning, use a colander or mesh strainer to collect shrub.
  6. Place shrub concentrate in a clean, glass bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to Use Fruit Shrub Concentrate

When you’re ready to use your fruit shrub, get a glass and follow these instructions:

  • Fill a glass with ice (if that’s your thing).
  • Place 2-3 tablespoons of shrub in the bottom of your glass (or more if you’re really trying to kick a soda habit.)
  • Fill remaining glass with water or sparkling water. (I personally love the Topo Chico Mineral Water.)
  • Shrub can also be added to your favorite cocktail for a splash of flavor!

Fruit Shrub Substitutions

  • Consider using different herbs based on your tastes. Consider mint, thyme, sage, or rosemary.
  • Add in ginger for a zesty shrub
  • Swap out the grapes for berries for a juicier shrub. Skip the cooking step, and simply mash berries with the sugar, vinegar, and herbs. Let sit overnight and strain.

Fruit Shrub can be store in the refrigerator for months, but I doubt it will last that long!

Yield: 1 Pint

Lemon Balm Muscadine Shrub

muscadine shrub on table with glass of ice

Fruit shrubs, or old-timey drinking vinegar, are perfect drinks to use up fruit and herbs from the garden or grocery store. This muscadine grape shrub also includes calming lemon balm for a perfect drink on a hot day.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups muscadine grapes (or any variety you’d like to substitute)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Lemon Balm leaves

Instructions

  1. Place clean grapes in a large pot (If grapes were store bought, be sure to use a good quality fruit spray to clean them.) Cover the grapes with water and mash until grapes are thoroughly broken up.
  2. Bring grapes and water to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. (Mash grapes more during the cooking process if needed.)
  3. Remove pot from heat. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon balm, and sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Let mixture sit overnight either in the pot with a lid or you can move to the fridge.
  5. In the morning, use a colander or mesh strainer to collect shrub.
  6. Place shrub concentrate in a clean, glass bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

This same recipe can be made with different herbs and concord grapes.

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