Nothing is better in the hot summer months than a cold, fizzy, refreshing drink, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in my Blackberry Thyme Shrub recipe! The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word sharbah, which means “a drink.” The most surprising thing about a shrub is that it’s basically a drinking vinegar – that’s right, a glass full of vinegar that you’ll actually want to drink! Although drinking vinegars aren’t so common today, they have a long history stretching back to the Babylonians, who added date vinegar to water to make it safe to drink, and the Romans, who mixed vinegar and water to make a beverage called posca.
There are two vinegars in my recipe: balsamic, for deep, complex, fruity flavors, and apple cider, for stronger, tangier vinegar flavor and sweetness. The vinegar actually make shrubs taste almost like a cocktail, and add an acidic, unique, almost wine-like flavor to the final drink. Something else to remember is that you can easily customize the fruit and herbs in a shrub. Any berry would work, and other mild herbs, like oregano or mint, would be delicious! The only thing to note about making shrubs is that the fermentation process does take a few weeks, but I promise they’re worth the wait. I served this Blackberry Thyme shrub for Father’s Day a few weeks ago, and every single person in my family loved it!
1. Isn’t a shrub a plant?
Yes, but it’s ALSO a drink, more specifically a drinking vinegar. They are less common now, but have been around since the Babylonians drank them thousands of years ago.
2. Vinegar you’ll want to drink.
Vinegars aren’t palatable to most on their own, but once they’re fermented with sugar, berries, and fresh herbs, they turn into something else entirely. My shrub is bright, tangy, sweet, and fizzy, perfect for a hot summer day!
3. Pick your favorite flavors!
I love the combination of sweet-yet-tart blackberries and herbal, lemony thyme, but you can easily swap in your favorite berry and tender herb combination here. I want to try strawberry and mint next!
Blackberry Thyme Shrub
- 1 ½ pounds blackberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 (¾ ounce) package thyme
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- Seltzer, for serving
- Add fruit and sugar to a large, resealable container. Crush fruit with a muddler, or bottom of a wooden spoon, incorporating sugar into the fruit well. Cover, refrigerate and let macerate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- The next day, add herbs and vinegar, then stir well and refrigerate. Allow to sit for 7-10 days, shaking or stirring once a day. The mixture will smell bright and vinegary and should be free of any scum or white discoloration.
- Then set a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and pour mixture through the sieve. Discard solids and transfer liquid back to the large resealable container.
- When ready to serve, fill a tall glass with ice. Pour 2-4 ounces of shrubs over ice and top with seltzer or water. Enjoy!