why we make shrubs
In 2013, my wife Angela and I were living outside of Boston. During this time, we got involved in a small, non-profit that foraged local fruit. Through this organization, we learned various techniques to preserve fruit.
Around the same time, Angela, then pregnant with our first child, began craving something that had the complexity of a cocktail but that was healthy, made with real ingredients and, of course, had no alcohol.
One day, after harvesting 400 pounds of crabapples, we were looking for recipes for our bounty and came across the concept of “shrubs”.
After mixing our first batch with some sparkling water, the result was a drink that was incredibly refreshing and satisfied every aspect of Angela’s craving.
It worked well because the vinegar provided a wonderful acidity, while the fruit, hint of sugar + herbs and spices created a flavor profile that was tart, savory and complex.
For us, that means:
Organic apple cider vinegar
Whole, fresh (non-GMO) fruit
Organic herbs and spices
A touch of organic cane sugar (from a family run business, just like ours)
That’s it. Real, simple ingredients.
These shrubs, which once seemed like a simple solution to a healthy non-alcoholic drink for my wife have evolved into a line of products that are truly unique and wholesome enough to drink every day.
We learned that shrubs (not small bushes) have a long and complicated history dating back to the 15th century. In colonial America, shrubs became popular as a way to preserve fruit harvested throughout the summer using vinegar (instead of citrus).
With this knowledge and fruit from our neighborhood, we started experimenting with shrubs; adding different herbs and spices to create intriguing flavor combinations.
Creating a product with real, simple ingredients was essential because everything on the market that tasted good was made with something weird or had a ton of sugar.
We figured if, at a minimum, Angela (while pregnant) would be proud of the ingredients in our shrubs, they would be appealing to others as well.
While our story is rooted in creating a delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic drink, our shrubs are incredibly versatile. They work equally well as craft cocktail mixers (think acid from the vinegar + sweetness from the fruit and sugar) and as an easy way to add a ton of flavor to salads, marinades and other culinary creations.
If you need some inspiration, here are a few recipes we have created. We would love to see what you can do with our shrubs so if you do create something, please share it with us or on social media using #drinkmoreshrub and make sure tag us (@elementshrub) so see it.
We are proud to be a member of the Good Food Foundation, an organization headed by Alice Waters, the chef and mastermind behind Chez Panisse (Berkeley, CA) and one of the first pioneers of the organic movement, promoting sustainable practices and the use of real ingredients in food.
We are also proud members of both the Specialty Food Association & Virginia's Finest.