Shrubs & Oxymels
by Daphne Lambert
Fermented shrubs are sweet & sour probiotic drinks that have different health benefits and in particular help support the digestive tract.
The acetic acid bacteria that colonise raw Apple Cider Vinegar have many benefits, combined with fruit & herbs and left to ferment the additional probiotic activity creates a potent tonic.
What you need
Fruit – berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, loganberries & blackberries work particularly well, make sure your fruit is organic.
Raw apple cider vinegar – this is essential for a probiotic tonic.
Herbs or spices – mint, basil, chilli, ginger, cinnamon.
Clean equipment – kilner jar or similar wide necked jar, muslin, bowl, strainer, funnel & bottles
Fermented blueberry & thyme shrub
2 x 2” sprigs of thyme
250ml raw apple cider vinegar
200 ml organic runny honey
Place the blueberries & thyme in a wide mouthed jar and bruise well with a wooden spoon.
Add enough vinegar to cover and muddle well together, so the blueberries & thyme release their juices, oils, flavour & healing properties.
Cover the jar with a piece of muslin and securely fasten.
Leave at room temperature for 12 hours.
Replace the jar lid and give the mixture a really good shake. Stand in room temperature, out of direct sunlight and not near the stove for 7 days shaking every day.
Strain out the solids, pressing all the juices through the sieve into a bowl.
Add honey to taste up to 200ml
Pour through a funnel into bottles.
Store in the fridge for up to 6 months.
How to use
Dilute to taste with cold or warm water, sparkling or soda water. You can also use as a base for a cocktail
Try blackberry & sage in the autumn, cranberry & bay in the winter and rhubarb & sweet cicely in the spring.
Quick & super simple method
raspberry & basil shrub
250ml raw apple cider vinegar
handful torn basil leaves
200ml organic runny honey
Put the raspberries into a bowl. Add the basil, pour over the vinegar and muddle all well together. Cover with muslin and leave in a cool place for 24 hours.
Tip the mixture into a sieve and press the pulp through.
Add the honey (more or less to taste is fine). Pour into a glass bottle. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months
Use as above
The oxymel - from the Latin oxymeli meaning ‘acid & honey’ is an ancient Greek drink made from herbs, vinegar & honey. Traditionally, an Oxymel recipe would be used to administer beneficial herbs that might not be so pleasant to take on their own. Different herbs can be used for personal taste or to meet your health needs – rosemary is energising, thyme would be beneficial for upper respiratory infections and elderflowers help support the immune system.
There are different ways to make an oxymel but the simplest method I find is to take infused apple cider vinegar and mix with honey, I generally use 1/3rd honey 2/3rds infused vinegar – experiment and see what works for you. Both honey and vinegar act as preservatives, so you’re not going to ruin the mixture by altering the ratios. Bottle and store in a cool place.
How to make a herb infused vinegar using fresh herbs
you will need
fresh herb of choice.
wide necked jar with lid – kilner jar works well. Do not use metal lids.
apple cider vinegar
cut up your fresh herb and loosely fill a jar
pour the vinegar over the herbs
fasten the lid and gently shake
place the jar in a cool dark place for 4 – 6 weeks shaking occasionally.
Strain, bottle & label.