Shrub is another alcoholic beverage that, like punch, was highly
popular in past centuries, particularly the 18th and early 19th.
It’s similar to the punches of that time, as well, for it makes
use of fruit juice and spirits. According to The Oxford English
Dictionary (OED), a shrub is:
1. A prepared drink made with the juice
of orange or lemon (or other acid fruit),
sugar, rum (or other spirit).
Now, most of the historic shrub receipts (recipes) that I found
while doing my recent research on early American beverages
called for either brandy or rum. It seemed, though, that the
majority of them specified good ol’ rum.
Beginning in the early 19th century, however, people became
concerned that their fellow citizens were drinking too much.
Something needed to be done! So a little phenomenon known
as the Temperance Movement began. I won’t delve into the
specifics here, but one result was the replacement of spirits
in various beverages by other, non-alcoholic liquids. Thus was
born Raspberry Shrub. In fact, if we take another look at the
OED, the second definition of shrub is:
2. U.S. A cordial or syrup made from
the juice of the raspberry, with vinegar
So, as I mentioned previously, in addition to the rum-based
“Fine Milk Punch” that I made for Andy Smith’s class this past
June, I had to also concoct something without rum (for all
the non-drinking and underage students, you see). Naturally,
Raspberry Shrub fit the bill perfectly: a rum beverage but
without the rum! HUZZAH! So
I brewed a batch. Of course, no
rum means it’s no longer an 18th
century beverage, but rather one
from the next century. Nevertheless,
it’s a beverage I’ve made dozens
and dozens of times, and thus I
imagine the following photos will look VERY familiar! Trust me,
they are all new, and each one documents an entirely different,
and recent, pot of very red, and very delicious, Raspberry Shrub.
Put in a pan and just cover with vinegar:
Cook until the berries disintegrate:
Strain out the juice:
All that remains is useless pulp:
Juice goes back in the pot, add sugar:
Cook again until thickened:
Finally, lovely, thick raspberry syrup:
Mix syrup with water and TA-DA! Yummy Raspberry Shrub!
And yes, I again used the following receipt from The American
Frugal Housewife, by Mrs. Child (12th ed., 1833):
Raspberry shrub mixed with water is a pure,
delicious drink for summer; and in a country
where raspberries are abundant, it is good
economy to make it answer instead of Port
and Catalonia wine. Put raspberries in a pan,
and scarcely cover them with strong vinegar.
Add a pint of sugar to a pint of juice; (of this
you can judge by first trying your pan to see
how much it holds;) scald it, skim it, and bottle
it when cold.