What Is A Shrub Anyway? How To Make Your Own Grape Soda


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What Is A Shrub Anyway? How To Make Your Own Grape Soda

June 18, 2024
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What Is A Shrub Anyway? How To Make Your Own Grape Soda

Have you ever wondered what is a shrub? You might think of something that grows in the ground, but you’d be wrong! Imagine a tangy, sweet syrup that bursts with the vibrant flavor of fresh grapes and a hint of zesty vinegar. When mixed with sparkling water, it transforms into a refreshing grape soda, effervescent and bright, with a perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Discover the Tangy Delight of Shrubs

If you’ve ever wandered through the farmers’ markets of California, you know the abundance of fresh fruit our Golden State produces. But what happens when you have an overflow of something like table grapes at home?

Enter the world of shrubs. No, we’re not talking about the ones in your garden. We’re diving into the deliciously tangy, old-fashioned drink that’s making a comeback: drinking vinegar – affectionately known as a “shrub.” Today, we’ll answer the question “What is a shrub?” and show you how to turn gorgeous California table grapes into a refreshing homemade grape soda.

Shrubs 101: What Is a Drinking Vinegar?

So, what is a shrub? Simply put, a shrub is a concentrated syrup made from fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar. This concoction has a fascinating history as a preservative and a delightful addition to drinks. The addition of vinegar not only preserves the fruit but also gives the syrup a unique tang that balances perfectly with the sweetness of the fruit. The result? A versatile fruit syrup that can be mixed with club soda for non-alcoholic drinks or added to cocktails for a sophisticated twist.

Shrubs, or drinking vinegar, have a rich history that dates back to ancient times. Originating in the Middle East, these tangy elixirs spread to Europe and colonial America. In colonial America, shrubs were made from seasonal fruit, sugar, and vinegar to create fruit syrups that could be mixed with water or spirits. This method preserved fresh fruit flavors and provided a refreshing drink, embodying a delicious blend of practicality and indulgence.

A variety of produce from California.

The Fruit Spectrum: Perfect Picks for Shrubs

Shrubs are incredibly versatile. While we’re focusing on grapes here, you can make shrubs from almost any seasonal fruit: strawberries, peaches, blueberries, and even more exotic fruits like pomegranates.

Embrace No-Waste Cooking with Shrubs

In the spirit of no-waste cooking, shrubs are the perfect preservation method for when you have an abundance of fruit but aren’t sure what to do with it. By transforming surplus fruit into a tangy, sweet syrup using vinegar and sugar, shrubs not only extend the life of your produce but also create versatile, flavorful additions to drinks and recipes. This method turns potential food waste into a sippable, homemade treat.

A woman selecting grapes at the grocery store.

Table Grapes: The Unsung Heroes of the Fruit World

Before we dive into how to make this shrub, let’s get to know our star ingredient: table grapes. Grown with care under the California sun, table grapes are the red, green, and purple varieties you love to snack on. Unlike their wine grape cousins, table grapes are larger, crisper, and packed with refreshing flavor. Curious about how they’re grown? Check out this detailed guide that takes you through the journey of a grape from vine to table.

grapes from California

Seasonal Sensation: When to Enjoy California Table Grapes

Timing is everything when it comes to enjoying the best produce, and table grapes are no exception. In California, table grape season stretches from May to January, giving you a generous window to enjoy these sweet treats. Learn more about their seasonal cycle here.

What To Do With an Abundance of Table Grapes?

Got a grape surplus? Lucky you! Besides munching on them straight from the bunch, you can freeze them for a cool snack, toss them into salads, or, better yet, transform them into a shrub. Making shrubs is one of the best ways to reduce food waste and preserve the fresh fruit flavor long past its season.

fresh grapes | table grapes | grape bunch

Grape Varieties: Can You Use Any Color to Make a Shrub?

Absolutely! Whether you have red, green, or black grapes, they can all be turned into a delicious shrub. Each type will offer a slightly different flavor profile, so feel free to experiment and find your favorite.

Vinegar Choices: Elevating Your Shrub Game

The choice of vinegar is crucial in shrub-making. For this grape shrub recipe, we’re using sparkling wine vinegar, also referred to as champagne vinegar. This type of vinegar is light and effervescent with a delicate acidity that doesn’t overpower the sweetness of the grapes. Its flavor profile is slightly fruity and elegant, making it the perfect match for a grape shrub.

The Simple Art of Transforming This Shrub Into Grape Soda

Once you’ve made your shrub, turning it into a refreshing grape soda is a breeze. Simply mix the shrub with club soda or sparkling water to taste. For a fun twist, serve it over ice and garnish with a few fresh grapes on cocktail picks! This delicious drink is both refreshing and full of the rich flavors of CA GROWN table grapes.

The Versatility of Shrubs

Shrubs aren’t just for sodas. They make excellent bases for cocktails, adding complexity to your favorite mixed drinks. They’re also fantastic in non-alcoholic mocktails, perfect for those looking for delicious drinks without the booze.

Embrace The Shrub Revolution

Shrubs are a fantastic way to utilize fresh fruit, reduce food waste, and create something truly special. From fruity non-alcoholic drinks to sophisticated cocktail shrubs, there’s a shrub recipe out there for everyone. So, the next time someone asks, “What is a shrub?” you’ll not only have the answer but also a recipe and refreshing grape soda to share.


Craving more CA GROWN goodness? Follow us on Pinterest for fresh and fabulous recipe inspiration!

A shrub made of black grapes turned into a beautiful purple grape soda.

Black Grape Shrub

Meg van der Kruik
This grape shrub strikes the perfect balance between tart and sweet, with the deep, robust flavor of black table grapes and a hint of warmth from cinnamon. It's a versatile ingredient that adds complexity to cocktails, spritzers, or even a simple glass of sparkling water.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 12 hours
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 3 cups
Calories 28 kcal


For the shrub:

  • 2 lbs black grapes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


To make the shrub:

  • Rinse the grapes thoroughly under cold running water. Remove any stems and discard any damaged or bruised grapes.
  • Place the washed grapes in a medium-sized pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  • As the grapes start to soften, use a masher or a large spoon to gently smash them, releasing their juices. Continue cooking until the mixture is simmering and the grapes have partially broken down, about 7-10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the sugar and champagne vinegar to the pot. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Carefully transfer the grape mixture to a blender. Blend on low to medium speed until the grapes are chopped up, but not pureed, about 15-30 seconds.
  • Pour the blended mixture into a clean glass container. Add the cinnamon sticks and stir to combine.
  • Cover the container and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours, or up to 48 hours. This allows the flavors to meld together.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a clean bowl or pitcher. Press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
  • Transfer the strained shrub into a clean bottle or jar. Discard the solids. Keep the shrub refrigerated.


  • The shrub can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a month. Shake well before using, as some separation may occur.

How to make grape soda:

  • Fill a glass with ice then add 2-4 tablespoons of the shrub to the glass, depending on taste you could use less or more. Then top with cold sparkling water, stir, and serve immediately.



Serving: 3tbspCalories: 28kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 41mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 13IUVitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword black grape, cocktails, craft cocktails, drinking vinegar, drinks, grape, grape soda, mocktails, shrub, table grapes
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