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Shrubs & Oxymels

by Daphne Lambert

Fermented method

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.

Organic honey

Clean equipment – kilner jar or similar wide necked jar, muslin, bowl, strainer, funnel & bottles

Fermented blueberry & thyme shrub

250g blueberries

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

250g raspberries

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.

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