Grapefruit Ginger Shrub Recipe

Reader Contribution by RenÉE Benoit
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I love apple cider vinegar so much I’ve even fermented my own. It’s a very healthy food to include in your diet for its probiotic properties but sometimes I run out of recipes to use it in. First and foremost, I include it in my vinegar and oil salad dressings and other times I dilute it in a glass of water and drink it with a little locally produced honey. However, I thought it would be nice to have a new and unexpected way to include it in my diet. So, I did a little research and found an old-fashioned drink. It’s called a “shrub”. The name makes no sense whatsoever. Anyway, I thought I would try it and it turns out that it’s pretty tasty.

The research told me that a shrub is the name of different, but related, acidulated beverages. Acidulated means slightly acidic. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England and was typically made with rum or brandy. The other shrub is mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit. It’s a sweetened vinegar-based syrup from which the drink is made. The syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. This is the shrub I decided to try.

I found that in days gone by people used vinegar as an alternative to difficult-to-find citrus juices when they were trying to preserve berries and other fruits. Fruit preserves made in this way were themselves known as shrubs. By the 19th century, typical American shrub recipes used vinegar poured over fruit which was left to infuse at least overnight sometimes longer. Then the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink.

My neighbors have a grapefruit tree and we were gifted with a few pounds of the fruit. I decided to use those grapefruit as my citrus because one can eat only so much salad dressing or grapefruit halves! The neat thing about the shrub mixture is that it can live in the fridge for 2 or 3 months. We’re going to enjoy this in the coming hot weather. I had some fresh ginger so I added that for a little kick.

Grapefruit Ginger Shrub Recipe


  • 2 large grapefruits, any kind, plus slices for serving
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • One 4 in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • Chilled seltzer, for serving


Grate the zest from grapefruits to equal 2-1/2 tablespoons. Place in a large bowl. Then cut away the peel and pith of 2 grapefruits and discard. Chop the remaining flesh into 1-inch pieces. You should have about 2 cups.

Add sugar to the zest in bowl and rub it with your fingertips to release the oils. Stir in the chopped grapefruit and sliced ginger. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, overnight.

The next day stir the vinegar into the grapefruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days. After 2 days strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a lidded jar. You can store shrub syrup in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to have some pour 3 tablespoons of the shrub syrup into an ice-filled glass. Then top with seltzer and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

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