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Are Shrubs the New Kombucha?

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Are Shrubs the New Kombucha?
Apple cider vinegar, lemon and baking soda drink

A shrub (not the plant) is a drink that is made by fermenting fruit or vegetables with sugar and vinegar. Basically, if it grows and it’s edible you can make a shrub out of it with a little time, vinegar and sugar. The result is a concentrated flavored vinegar of sorts that can be enjoyed in small sips on its own, as a sour shot of flavor in a cocktail or mixed into your favorite sparkling water or juice for a refreshing afternoon drink. Shrubs are most commonly used as a preventative and corrective way to improve digestive health. Due to the promotion of shrubs by some of the nation's best bartenders, you’re also likely to find cocktails laced with them at almost any cool bar in your town.

1. What’s a Shrub?
Mortar full of hawthorn berries and tincture bottles

1 WHAT’S A SHRUB?

While shrubs may seem like the new kid on the block, they’re actually a trend that’s coming back around. A shrub — derived from the Arabic word “sharāb,” which means “to drink” — is actually a very old drink that people have been imbibing in tonics and cordials for hundreds of years in parts of Asia and Europe for its medicinal properties and ability to promote gut health. Shrubs are often referred to as “drinking vinegars” and were commonly consumed in America during the 18th century. Because there was no refrigeration, making shrubs was a great way to use fruit scraps and keep the taste of summer produce around long after the season had passed. Fun fact: Because shrubs were often added to fizzy water during America’s colonial period, they are often credited as the precursor to sodas.

Do Shrubs Really Help Your Gut?
Intestines sketch with gut bacteria

DO SHRUBS REALLY HELP YOUR GUT?

In the same way that kombucha aids in the correction and management of positive gut health, so do shrubs. Due to the production of all that good bacteria that comes along with the fermentation process, consuming shrubs can help promote the balance inside your belly, keeping you happy and healthy by giving you a solid boost of enzymes, vitamin D and probiotics — all while balancing the pH levels in your stomach.

What Are Other Health Benefits of Shrubs?
apple cider vinegar

WHAT ARE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF SHRUBS?

It’s not just about gut health when it comes to shrubs. Because shrubs are commonly made with apple cider vinegar, they can also help keep your appetite under control, aid in keeping blood glucose in check, promote weight loss and even help with detoxifying your body — specifically your liver, blood and skin. Shrubs for the win!

5. Can You Drink Too Many Shrubs?
Tooth pain

5 CAN YOU DRINK TOO MANY SHRUBS?

While there are heaps of health benefits to be gained by drinking vinegars, the acidic stuff can be really hard on your esophagus and has also been found to strip the enamel from your teeth. To avoid any of the negative, we suggest refraining from drinking your shrubs straight and instead adding them to a water, juice or — if you’re feeling like it’s 5 o’clock somewhere — a cocktail instead. Also, like all things in life, moderation is key.

Can You Make Shrubs at Home?
Bartender stirring a shrub cocktail

CAN YOU MAKE SHRUBS AT HOME?

Mash one cup of your favorite chopped fruits or veggies in a jar that has been sterilized by boiling for 10 minutes, letting all the juices mingle together in the fridge overnight. The next day, add one cup of apple cider vinegar, stirring well to thoroughly combine. Let the jar rest in a cool, dark place for three to 20 days, depending on the potency you’re going for: The longer it rests, the stronger and more complex the flavor.

After the resting period, strain the solids from the liquids using a cheesecloth. Discard the solids. The liquids you are left with is your shrub! Add your shrub to some water, seltzer or your favorite cocktail and enjoy! Just remember to keep this baby in the fridge so it lasts, and make sure to consume within six months.

What Do YOU Think?
Apple cider vinegar with fresh apple as prop, healthy drink

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Would you make a shrub from scratch at home? Share your favorite recipes and flavors in the comments.

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