from the kitchen: shrubs


Oftentimes in the summer season we find ourselves with a bumper crop of beautiful fruit that is so very ripe it must be put to use that instant.  It’s a wonderful dilemma to have – and one that’s led to the delicious addition of in-house shrubs to our line up at the girl & the fig and fig cafe.

A little history – shrubs originated as a food preservation technique that dates back to the days before refrigeration.  To prolong the life of ripe fruits, adding them to a crock with a good amount of sugar would transform them within a few weeks to vinegar.  This vinegar, though, has the bright, fragrant fruit flavors and could be better described as a vinegar “syrup.”

As Serious Eats better puts it, “a proper shrub has a flavor that’s both tart and sweet, so it stimulates the appetite while quenching thirst.”

Without further ado, the girl & the fig’s take on the traditional shrub:


  • 3 pints fresh blackberries or figs
  • 3 cups red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water


Thoroughly wash fruit and pat dry.

Add to vessel of your choice (glass or plastic, not metal) and pour vinegar over fruit.  Cover and place in refrigerator for two days.

After two days, combine sugar and water in a saucepan and slowly stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

Combine all ingredients in a large blender (or blend in batches) and puree well.  Pour mixture through a sieve and return to the refrigerator for long term storage.


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