Blackberry Shrub Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

I write historical novels and it’s always fun to find a recipe for something that folks ate or drank in days gone by that most modern folks have never heard about. Blackberry shrub is one of those drinks.

The recipe in my 1877 cookbook is actually for raspberry shrub and was shared by Mrs. Judge West. My character in my newest release, A Not So Convenient Marriage, discovers that her husband enjoys blackberry shrub and makes it for him.

This recipe makes a concentrate that you add to a glass of ice-cold water. I added four tablespoons of the concentrate to a glass of water. I don’t advise drinking it without diluting it. 😊  

It’s amazingly quick and easy to prepare. Wipe up any spills immediately as the fruit may stain the counter.  

To make one pint of shrub concentrate:

Rinse 1 pint fresh blackberries and drain. Place drained fruit in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in 1 pint of apple cider vinegar and give it a gentle stir. Let it stand a few minutes.

With a slotted spoon, take the blackberries out of the vinegar and put them in a quart-sized Mason jar (or 2 pint-sized jars.) Then pour the vinegar (it will now have a purple tinge) over the fruit. Close the lid on the jars and let it stand overnight.

The next day, strain the fruit from the liquid and discard it.

Pour the liquid into a saucepan. Stir in 1 pint of sugar and boil on medium to medium high heat for 10 minutes.

The shrub will have the consistency of a light syrup. Pour it into a clean pint-sized Mason. Allow the concentrate to cool before putting on the lid.

Mrs. West doesn’t say to store it in a cool place, like a refrigerator, but I believe it tastes better cold. It should be good a few weeks.  

I added four tablespoons of the syrup to icy cold water. (You can add more to taste.) It’s a light flavor of blackberry with snappy taste from vinegar. I liked it as a variation from soft drinks and so did my husband. I also took it to a family movie night and they enjoyed the novelty of the drink.

I always try to make the recipe as the historical cook did. Next time, I’ll allow the fruit to steep inside the vinegar for three or four days to enhance the fruity flavor. I will also mash the fruit when making the syrup to enhance the blackberry flavor.



Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.