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How to make an Apple Shrub Syrup: Cold Shrubbing vs Hot Shrubbing

How to make an Apple Shrub Syrup: Cold Shrubbing vs Hot Shrubbing

Even non-fans of  football enjoy the trappings around gamedays, i.e., beer, dips and finger foods.  So, to up the pleasure of  non-fans in our house on Monday nights (me), I put the season’s apple harvest and the soda stream to work.  Results:  a cocktail made with Apple Shrub Syrup, beer, a dash of orange bitters and topped with bubbling carbonated water.  It was a winner.  Too bad for the Hubby that the Bears weren’t winners also!

spritzer with apple shrub syrup
Cocktail using Apple Shrub Syrup

Apple Shrub Syrup:

I make and sell shrub syrups online and at farmers’ markets, but they are fairly easy to make if you have fresh fruit and some time.  For the apple syrup I extracted the juice from the apples first as follows.

Extracting Juice:

While cold shrubbing (extracting the juice by letting the fruit sit overnight in sugar and then straining before adding vinegar) works well with fruit like strawberries or peaches, I don’t like to use the cold shrubbing method on apples.  The resulting strained syrup is too sweet and too thick for my taste.  I have a stainless steel steam juicer from Finland (called a Mehu Liisa) that I use to extract the juice.  It’s somewhat expensive, but you could steam your apples in a double boiler if you’re just making a small batch and then strain.  

With apples, you could also put them through an apple press.  If you go the apple press route however, make sure and pasteurize your apple shrub in the end by bringing it up to 160 degrees for a short time.  This article from the University of Georgia has some good information on extracting juice from apples and when and why to pasteurize.

Sugar and Vinegar Ratios:

A shrub syrup is basically extracted juice, sugar and vinegar.  The ratios of these 3 ingredients vary greatly depending on whose recipe you use and your own taste.  The most common ratio of  shrub ingredients is 1:1:1.  That is 1 cup extracted juice to 1 cup sugar to 1 cup vinegar.  Of course the type of sugar and the type of vinegar you use will add nuance to your shrub.

For our apple shrub from Heathglen I used organic Haralred apples from our farm, pure cane sugar mixed with maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar.  The ratios I used were 4 cups extracted apple juice to 2 1/4 cups sweetener (a blend of maple syrup and pure cane sugar, to 3 cups apple cider vinegar.

If you are making a small batch, you’ll just need to experiment.  The recipe is very forgiving and can easily be adjusted.  Just remember, the vinegar will mellow after it sits with the apple syrup for a while so the first taste while cooking will be more pungent than the final product.

Hot Shrubbing method:

Once you’ve extracted the apple juice you need to add the sugar and vinegar.  Pour the juice into a pot and add the sugar.  Heat the mix slowly to dissolve the sugar.  You do not need to boil the syrup mixture, just simmer it enough to dissolve the sugar.  

After the sugar is dissolved you can turn off the heat and add the vinegar, cover and let the syrup sit for several days to several weeks.  I personally like to heat the mixture to about 165 degrees before covering to evaporate some of the volatile elements of the vinegar.  I think it mellows the syrup, but it certainly isn’t necessary.  Remember however, that if you extract the juice through the apple press, it should be brought up to 160 degrees for 5 minutes or so to pasteurize.

Ingredients for a beer cocktail with apple shrub syrup
Ingredients for a beer cocktail with apple shrub syrup

Beer Cocktail with Apple Shrub Syrup & Orange Bitters:


  • 1 1/2 oz. Apple Shrub Syrup
  • 10 oz. beer of your choice
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 oz carbonated water

In a tall glass, add all of the ingredients and stir gently with a long bar spoon.  Make sure all ingredients are really cold for the best drink.

Here’s a short “how-to” video on making the drink:

Beer Cocktails With Shrub Syrups And Bitters
Watch this video on YouTube.
Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details

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Jessica macpherson

Friday 17th of March 2017

Is it possible to pasturize shrubs so they don't have to refrigeated? Would the flavor change?

Dorothy Stainbrook

Monday 11th of September 2017

Yes it is totally possible to bring shrub syrups up to pastuization temps. Depending on how much vinegar and/or sugar you use shrubs don't really have to be refrigerated. Vinegar and sugar are both pretty heavy preservatives. I like to keep mine refrigerated because it keeps the taste fresher longer, rather than because it's unsafe.

Jeremy martin

Saturday 29th of October 2016

Hi. This a great post. I keep coming back to it for pointers. I am trying to make my own shrubs but am having difficulty getting a good batch. I have been macerating different fruit concoctions, pear ginger for instance, and tried with several types of vinegar and sugars. Could you tell me what is a good ratio of syrup to vinegar in order to have a good shelf life and taste after aging before use if it is being pastuerized after bottling? If you have any tips it would be greatly appreciated. I would love to talk with a pro. Thanks!

Dorothy Stainbrook

Tuesday 15th of November 2016

Hi Jeremy, Typically I will use about 1/3 vinegar, 1/3 sugar and 1/3 fruit. It really depends on the fruit however. Some fruits are more delicate tasting and can't handle quite as much vinegar. Hope that helps!

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