plum ginger shrub

Plums from my tree. PLUMS FROM MY TREE!!!

I like to think that it’s my tree, but the whole thing is more of a cooperative venture. It’s me, the worms, the ants, the birds, the squirrels. Oh yes, and the racoons.

I look at these plums and they seem to me to be the most perfect fruit. But, really, if I’m to be honest about it all, they’re pretty imperfect. Loveable, yes. Sweet, YES! But each plum has been eaten and nibbled here and there, and most hold the scar of some animal traveling through or taking a taste. This isn’t fruit bowl fruit, these are begging for preservation.  I’m going to work on a batch of jam with the last of them today. The first triumphant picking, however, became a shrub.

Essentially a shrub is a drinking vinegar (sounds strange–tastes good!), which, when combined with bubbly water, lends itself to a drink of outstandingly refreshing tang and flavor. Take it from there to build cocktails–this adds both the sweet and the acid so you can go pretty simple here. The vinegar and the sugar preserve the flavor of the fruit, and rumor has it a bottle of this stuff will last a year in the fridge. There are several ways to make a shrub, all pretty easy. I followed this one (with a slight sugar reduction), and I’ll do again as soon as I have a truckload of lovable fruit. I’m drinking shrub and bubbly through most afternoons these days. My only problem is the bubbly–I think it might be time to buy a home seltzer maker. This is getting a little out of control.

As is my general custom, I made A LOT of this. I brought several bottles to the last FSC food swap and I’m moving through the rest of it at quite a pace. But you can work with how ever much fruit you have as long as you keep to the general ratio, which is: 1 cup chopped fruit to 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup vinegar (and I’ll give a recipe for a manageable quantity below). Most people make their shrubs with apple cider vinegar, but I’m hearing rumors of great success with balsamic and red wine vinegar as well. With this method, you combine the fruit and the sugar to macerate in the fridge for a while, then strain the fruit out of the syrup. Add the vinegar to the syrup, shake it all up, and then it’s done.


*And what to do with all that sugary fruit? It loses a bit of its flavor in the process, but there’s plenty left. I threw the plums and the ginger in the blender for a pretty fantastic little sauce, and then I made fruit leather out of it, like this:

The result was a sweet plum SUPER ginger fruit roll-up, which I have to say is pretty wonderful. And the sauce itself (pre-dehydrated) might be the best addition to yogurt I’ve had in a long time. So you get a few different products in one here.

Happy Monday, friends. Last bit of August–let’s drink it up together.



  1. says

    Buying a Sodastream was one of my most brilliant investments of last year. At the time, they didn’t make full-size bottles out of glass (only teeny weeny ones), and I knew I didn’t need any fancy bells and whistles, so I got the cheapest model. It’s been a workhorse in our house. We bubble at least one bottle a day. It goes into overdrive for parties (guests go CRAZY for this thing, you won’t believe it). We keep a spare CO2 canister in the cupboard so we’re never without. I make fancy soda syrups sometimes, but we usually drink it plain or use it to cut fruit juice for spritzers. I can’t recommend it enough! (There are definitely other soda makers out there, but I liked the environmental angle of the refillable CO2 canisters on this one. While single-charge carbonators can be used to add bubbles to liquids besides water, I’ve never been unhappy with this thing. I can’t speak highly enough of the Sodastream!

  2. Leah says

    Ahhh so happy you posted this I was going to email you for the recipe. I have been rationing my shrub from the food swap (and not sharing)!!!
    I also 100% recommend the Sodastream- I love it and use it daily.

  3. says

    Plums from your tree! Don’t they seem miraculous? We have a plum tree too, but our plums mature in June–at which point we scramble to use them all ASAP. I’ve never made shrub–clearly I need to try it with next year’s harvest. :)

  4. Michael Schneider says

    > “I think it might be time to buy a home seltzer maker.”

    I’ve had one for almost ten years, and can’t imagine living without it. Every once in a while, SodaStream sends me coupons that usually include one for a new whole unit; I’ll save the next one I get for you.


  5. Sarah says

    Lovely idea! I made some rhubarb ginger syrup earlier this year and canned it… I am curious if you (or any of your fantastic readers) might have an opinion on whether I could also can plum ginger syrup?

    • alana says

      Hi Sarah- I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be able to can a shrub, given the high sugar and vinegar content. I’d bring it to a boil, then pour into jars and process for 10 minutes. But I’d love to hear if any one else has thought on canning a shrub, too. I’ll put it out on twitter and get back to you with anything I hear.

  6. says

    why why why have I not thought of a sodastream for just seltzer? **facepalm**

    Also, my shrub with balsamic vinegar blew my blackberry flavor away…so all I have is sweetened balsamic flavor. I’m drinking it anyway though. And last night I got a *hint* of blackberry so maybe it will mellow out a bit in a while.

    Also, fruit leather? genius.

  7. says

    I know this comment is way after the fact BUT I just learned of shrub’s glory last year from our local paper’s food section (which is usually not mindblowing so this was a major exception!) and I can tell you I made both peach/rosemary and blackberry/basil (the herbs are a fun addition) last July-ish and they have both kept for the last year and actually have continued to taste better the longer they’ve been kept. So good! And so refreshing! We’re planning a shrub-making session today.

  8. says

    Due to an amazing amount of fruit, I am trying this recipe for the first time using 4 quarts of tiny wild plums! I am also leaving town the day after tomorrow. We’ll e gone for a week, and I’m worried that I may have to bottle it before the 12 cups of sugar will be dissolved into the fruit. Could I leave this in the fridge for a week and add the vinegar when I get home from my trip? Thanks for the lovely recipe – I can’t wait to drink my own!

    • alana says

      Wild plums- lucky you! If you can get the shrub started today, I think you’ll be okay, and I’d definitely err on the side of bottling it early early rather than later. I’m afraid that if you leave it for a week, it will fermenting and turning a bit in the fridge.

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