The Garden Spotter

Cranberry Orange Shrub


img_0966 My addiction to vinegary drinks started a couple years ago with kombucha. Though kombucha is not made with vinegar but bacteria, yeast, sugar and tea, it has that stingy, sour taste that resembles that of vinegar. So curiosity and taste buds naturally led me to the ultimate vinegar drink, the shrub.

It’s not known when exactly shrubs were developed, but they were very popular during colonial times in America. It’s believed that shrub was developed long before refrigeration, as a way to preserve the berry harvest, much like a jam or jelly. ┬áThe delicious sweet-sour drink is cooling in the summer, and warming in the winter and can be made with a variety of berries and other fruit.

To make this cranberry orange shrub, a few simple ingredients are all that’s needed, along with a little time. This flavorful beverage offers the perfect complement to meals and seasonal treats, and can be mixed with other ingredients to make more complex drinks, both alcoholic and non. I like drinking the shrub mixed with just a little sparkling mineral water for a natural twist on a soda drink. It’s especially nice during the holidays, just after the fall cranberry harvest allowing you to take advantage of fresh local fruit.


  • Cranberries
  • Orange zest
  • Sugar
  • Good quality apple cider vinegar


Place cranberries in a stone jar or crock and cover with vinegar. Mash, or muddle, the cranberries to help release juices. Add the orange zest into the mixture and stir gently. Cover and let sit for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally. When the cranberry and orange mixture has thoroughly macerated – which you can tell from the dark color – strain using a colander or cheesecloth to remove pulp.

Place juice in saucepan and add one cup sugar to each cup of liquid; it’s a one to one ratio. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Bottle immediately and let cool. Stores in a cool place, or refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Get creative! Shrub can be used in a variety of drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic. As I stated earlier, I love my shrub with sparkling mineral water, usually about one ounce to every three of mineral water. It tastes like an adult soda!

I’m thinking about trying it with an orange liquor and vodka for a holiday drink.

Have you ever tried shrub?

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