Rhubarb Shrub

by autumn on May 16, 2013


When I was developing a rhubarb shrub recipe for my recent Serious Eats piece, it took three tries to get a recipe I was happy with. My first two attempts were cold processed shrubs, which I acutally prefer because they’re so darn easy. If you’ve never tried it, a cold processed shrub is just fruit mixed with sugar and allowed to macerate (ie: you forget about it) in the fridge for a few days. The resulting sugary juice is then mixed with vinegar for a tart, fruity syrup.


Attempts #1 and #2 were both cold processed and #2 was pretty darn good. I ultimately decided that my #3 version, a cooked shrub, was the winner. I realized that because we almost exclusively eat rhubarb cooked the flavor we tend to recognize as “rhubarb” is cooked rhubarb. That said, #3 won by just a hair and #2 was sweet, more fruity, and delicious in its own right. For these reasons and because I love the ease with which cold-processed shrubs come together, I decided to share the cold-processed version here.

I’ve been thinking of this as a small batch, starter shrub—the perfect thing to make if you haven’t quite caught the shrub-bug yet. It’s not as vinegary as some recipes, it retains the rhubarb’s lovely, pink hue, and it lets the unique side of rhubarb’s raw flavor to shine through. All good things!

Rhubarb Shrub
Recipe Type: cocktail
Author: Autumn Giles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 6 oz rhubarb, diced
  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  1. Place the rhubarb and sugar in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl with foil and place in the fridge to macerate for 2 days.
  3. After two days, position a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and pour the mixture through to remove the solids. Save for another use or discard the solids.
  4. Combine the strained syrup with the vinegar in a pint jar and shake to combine and help dissolve any extra sugar.
  5. Serve topped with soda water to taste and store in the fridge.



  • This really does make a small batch, right around a half pint. Of course, it can easily be scaled up if you have more rhubarb to invest and you already know you’re a fan of shrubs.
  • Your final product will not suffer if the rhubarb macerates for a bit longer than two days.



Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

This sounds so fun!! Looove this idea!


2 Lindsay May 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi Autumn,
I’m going to try this today. Or start it anyway. If one decides to make a cooked shrub instead of using a cold process, can you can it for storage outside the refrigerator? Am I not seeing recipes for that only because the water bath changes the flavor? If the cooked shrub is also delicious is it worth trying?


3 autumn May 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

Hi Lindsay, There’s some info in the link below about shrub storage, but you really don’t need to can them because they’ll keep quite a long time in the fridge.


4 Matt May 29, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Hey – the recipe has disappeared, i think it has something to do with your code.


5 KAREN July 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm

I’d love to have your recipe for the #2 cold pressed rhubarb shrub.
Would you please send it to me?
I tried #3 and it was a big hit with friends and family. Yum!!!


6 Leonard August 23, 2015 at 5:19 am

Two comments: 1) why wait to add the vinegar? Why not add rhubarb, sugar and vinegar and let macerate together? And why in the fridge? 2) Shrubs were made by the early pioneers because they had the fruit but no refrigeration, which is why they added vinegar and sugar, natural preservatives. Mixed in the right proportions a shrub, which actually ends up being like thin syrup to be mixed with water (or whatever) before consumption, should be capable of being stored in closed bottles WITHOUT refrigeration. I have both a gooseberry shrub and a Marionberry shrub on the pantry shelf to see how long each will last. Will open in six months to see. I have lots of frozen rhubarb and will try some small batches.


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