The Herbs ought to be distilled when they are in their greatestNicolas Culpepper
vigor, and so ought the Flowers also.
I love growing and using herbs in my garden! I believe they are at the apex of the most useful plants on the planet.
Some herbs and spices are robust, and long lasting. Others, are fleeting, either wilting quickly once cut or having such a short season, they are at their peak for a short time.
So making your own herbal shrubs is a great way to capture and extend the usefulness of these wonderful plants!
Before making and using these extracts, be sure to use vigilance. As always, if you have any reaction to your extract, cease using
Shrubs are herbal extracts in vinegar. This is probably one of my favourite ways to extract herbs because the options are almost limitless, it is low cost, the extract lasts a long time and shrubs are incredibly versatile.
One of the first shrubs I made was the Four Thieves Vinegar for use in my chicken coop.
Shrubs can be made with either dried or fresh herbs and even fruit and berries. Simple fill a jar with your herbs, spice, berries or fruit and top with your chosen vinegar. Keep in a dark cupboard and check every week until you reach your desired flavour or strength. Then simply strain and bottle, ready to use. Use within a year for
In this post, I share my favourite shrubs for dinking & consuming, for use on your body and even for household cleaning!
Remember to label and date all your shrubs! If you are a big experimenter like me, you may think you will remember, but in my experience, I forget!
Shrubs for Drinking
Since embarking on Dry January, I have made a few shrubs for drinking, mixed with sparkling water. Drinking shrubs can also be used in cocktails and usually have extra sugar added. You could
An oxymel is simply a vinegar extract with added honey. To get the maximum benefit from these recipes, use raw honey.
Balsamic, Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn Shrub
Fill a 125ml jar with frozen or fresh strawberries, 6 cracked pink peppercorns and a tablespoon of raw sugar.
Top with balsamic vinegar and store in a dark, cool place. Extract for at least a week, strain, bottle and add a shot glass measure to a tall glass of sparkling water, or more to taste.
Add fresh strawberries to garnish.
Apple Cider, Blackberry and Cinnamon Shrub
Fill a 125ml jar with frozen or fresh blackberries, add a cinnamon quill, a tablespoon of raw sugar and top with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Extract for at least a week, strain, bottle and add a shot glass measure to a tall glass of sparkling water, or more to taste. Serve with a few
Nectarine and Mint Champagne Vinegar Shrub
Fill a 125ml jar with chopped fresh nectarine (with skin on). Add a few springs of mint with a tablespoon of raw sugar and add to the nectarine. Top with Champagne or White Wine Vinegar.
Extract for at least a week, strain, bottle and add a shot glass measure to a tall glass of sparkling water, or more to taste. This is lovely served with some muddled fresh nectarine in the tumbler and topped with a fresh mint sprig!
Fire Cider Tonic
Traditionally, Fire Cider Tonic is used as an immunity booster at the onset of a cold. Some people choose to consume a tablespoon daily as a health tonic. The list of ingredients is quite long, but use what you have available in season, each batch you make could be entirely different, and that’s ok! I have made this just with chilli, garlic and ginger and it was fine! Use fresh or dried ingredients or a combination of both.
- Echinacea root
- Ginseng root
- Gogi berries
- Horseradish root
- Cinnamon quills
- Lemon zest and juice
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with mother
- Raw honey.
Add all ingredients to a 250ml jar, add half a cup of raw honey and cover with apple cider vinegar. Steep for a month in a dark pantry.
Strain and take a tablespoon neat if you are brave! Dilute with water or juice or incorporate into salad dressings.
Elderberry and Honey Tonic
I am surrounded by elder trees at my house, but it is rare that I get elderberries, it just doesn’t get cool enough! But when I do, I make this tonic. This is the only shrub recipe here that is cooked, as elderberries can be toxic raw.
Simmer one cup of ripe elderberries with half a cup of water for 5 minutes. When cool, add to a 500ml jar and add half a cup of raw honey. Top with apple cider vinegar and steep in a cool, dark pantry for four weeks. Strain and decant into a bottle. Take a tablespoon daily as a tonic.
Add the honey and apple cider vinegar after the cooked elderberries have cooled to preserve the probiotic properties of the honey and vinegar.
Shrubs for Body Care
I have used Apple Cider Vinegar diluted as a skin toner, and adding herbs like comfrey, yarrow, calendula, lavender and rose as they are available.
Rosemary & Lavender Hair Tonic
Fill a 250ml jar with equal parts chopped fresh Rosemary and Lavender. Top with Apple Cider Vinegar. Extract for at least a week and strain into a spray bottle.
This tonic is great if you have oily hair, or dandruff. Spray onto wet hair, as close to your scalp as possible, after shampooing. Then massage into your scalp for two minutes and rinse.
Comfrey, Yarrow and Calendula Skin Toner
This skin toner is great to use on acne prone skin. Use after cleansing. Dilute to one part water, one part vinegar. This toner is great dabbed neat onto spots and blemishes in the evening before bedtime. Use all three ingredients if you have them, fresh or dried.
Fill a 250ml jar with equal parts chopped Comfrey, Yarrow and Calendula petals. Top with Apple Cider Vinegar. Extract for at least a week and strain into a spray bottle.
Shrubs for Household Use
I intend to completely detox my cleaning supplies this year.
I already use white vinegar instead of fabric softener and use it to clean our bathroom basins and shower recesses. Plain white vinegar has a pungent odour and although it dissipates fairly quickly, adding citrus zest gives extra cleaning power and a more pleasant scent.
I don’t use vinegar on marble, and be careful using on composite stone benchtops or unsealed tiles, plastics and wood. Always patch test any cleaning product (homemade or otherwise) before use.
Citrus Cleaning Shrub
Fill a litre container with lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange (or a combination of citrus) zest. Pour white vinegar over to cover. Extract for at least a month in a cool, dark pantry. Strain into a spray container and use on glass, sealed ceramics and stainless steel.
This spray is great for cleaning our your fridge!
Nasturtium and Pyrethrin Insect Deterring Shrub.
There are many herbs reputed to keep insects at bay including wormwood and pennyroyal but they can also be toxic to humans and our pets.
This extract is user and pet-friendly, (although do keep it away from cat beds, pet food and fish). It can be used to deter flies, mosquitos, fleas, aphids, whitefly and squash bugs. Fair warning, this spray has a pungent odour, not very pleasant! It is best to use in your garden and the perimeter of your house.
Fill a litre jar with chopped nasturtium leaves and Pyrethrin leaves or flowers. Top with white vinegar & steep for a month in a dark, cool pantry. Strain and decant into a spray bottle. Use as required.
So there you have nine great recipes for making and using Herbal Shrubs. I would love to know how you go with these recipes! Do you have a favourite shrub recipe you are happy to share? Please leave a message for me in the comments section.