Plum Shrub

August 26, 2013

I’ve been patiently waiting all summer to make a shrub. Now, with all this fruit sitting around my kitchen, the time has finally come. I decided on plums as they were bursting with juice, and therefore perfect shrub material. Plus, try saying “plum shrub” three times fast without smiling. Yeah, I thought so. For those who don’t know, a shrub is a vinegar-based fruit syrup that can either be enjoyed on its own, mixed with a little seltzer, or my favorite: used to balance sweetness and acidity in a cocktail. More on that subject tomorrow. In the meantime, it’s time to get shrubbing!

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub // HonestlyYUM

Plum Shrub

A vinegar-based fruit syrup that can either be enjoyed on its own, mixed with a little seltzer, or in a cocktail.
Servings: about 1 cup



  1. Core and chop the plums and add them to a non-reactive mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir until the plums are thoroughly coated.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours. While the mixture is resting, the sugar will begin to extract the juice from the plums, creating a rich plum syrup.
  3. Remove the mixture from the fridge and strain the syrup and any excess sugar into a new mixing bowl. Firmly press on the plums to release any remaining juice. Whisk in the vinegar, dissolving the sugar as you go. Transfer the shrub into a bottle for storage.


The flavors will continue to develop as time passes. The vinegar will mellow and new notes of fruit will emerge.

(images by HonestlyYUM)


Hi! I had a little problem … I left the plums and sugar overnight but I still got a little sugar in the bottom of the jar … can you give me some advice please. What I can do?

We just smoked some plums tonight. We’re trying out your recipe for a smoked plum shrub. I’m excited – we have 4 plum trees coming in to season in NZ right now.

How did it turn out and can you give specifics on how you smoked the plums?

Even yellow-fleshed plums will give off a pretty, rose juice due to the coloration in the skin. In fact my favorite types of plum, Italian prune plums, have orange-yellow flesh and a love rose-colored juice.

Could you provide the quantity of vinegar to add to the strained plum/sugar mixture? (i.e., how much do you add to 1 cup of strained plum/sugar?)

Shrubs are generally equal portions of fruit, sugar & vinegar. Depending upon the type of fruit & how acidic/tart it is you may want to vary the vinegar type & amount. Some people also prefer less sweet blends, particularly when using really ripe fruit with a high sugar content like mangoes.

I just made this in preparation for an Emmys party. Thanks for the simple instructions – it’s exactly what I want to stir into bourbon.

Now that I know what a shrub is I am anxious to try but…have trouble finding plums that r red n the middle. Most I c r yellow. Any suggestions as to a variety I shld look for?

This is so beautiful. I’m completely new to shrubs, but a quirky name and anything vinegar-based is good news to me.

I’ve never heard of a “shrub” like this. Only that plant variety 🙂

But this sounds tasty! I can imagine it going well in drinks, but I would love to take it and reduce it even further in a sauce pan and drizzle it over plain yogurt or maybe some ice cream, mmm.

Such great ideas Rochelle! All those sound good to me (especially w/ ice cream).

A little bit of education to help me keep up with my husband! Beautiful photos and recipe.

Thank you Sarah! Next you’ll have to make the cocktail…coming soon!

How long does it keep? Do you refrigerate it?

Yes, keep it in the refrigerator. The vinegar can allow it to keep for several months. However, always smell it before using and check the bottle for mold or any signs of fermentation. After all, it’s always easy to make more!

That’s it!? For some reason I always thought this would be a little more complicated to make, so I’m happily surprised. Looking forward to the booze added to make a cocktail!

That’s it Ruthy. There’s also another way that requires boiling the sugar and fruit. It takes less time, since you don’t have to wait overnight for the sugar and plums to macerate, but it changes the flavor from fresh and bright, to cooked and jammy. I prefer the cold method, especially with something super juicy like plums!

My favourite use for a shrub (I made a plum shrub last week!) has been making salad dressing with it. Awesomeness.

Thanks Andrew. You inspired me to do the same thing with my salad tonight!

This recipe looks scrumptious and so fo all the accompanying ideas!! Todd, do you have any other books (I have the Shrubs! book), websites,blogs about shrubs that you can recommend please? I am trying to gain as much knowledge as possible about shrubs and the art of making them!!! Carey mentioned celery…. Never woulda thought of that!! Sounds great!! Thank you in advance for this blog and any recommendations!

I’ve never heard of shrub before but I’m definitely gonna try this out soon! Reminds me of kombucha.

Thanks Mary Beth. Hope you give it a try. Btw, I LOVE kombucha 😛

I love coming to this blog because I am always learning something new and interesting. Shrubing 101 today.

Dude, you and I are seriously on the same wavelength. Guess who just bought a ton of plums from the market this weekend for shrub purposes!! Then I went to a market in a neighboring town yesterday and stopped to chat with the soda syrup vendor I’ve befriended, and he gave me a sample of this new syrup he had that was plum + cayenne. Freakin’ amazing. Needless to say, I stopped and grabbed a cayenne pepper from the store on the way home, and that’s going in the shrub too. Very excited.

Can’t wait for the shrub post tomorrow! (I’m in the throes of almost-fall shrub madness, if you can’t tell by this giant comment. I’m refraining from telling you all about it like a crazy person, but I will just say that the best one I’ve made so far this year: celery shrub. Holy cow.) (:

Carey, you’re the best!! I think we’d be a dangerous duo behind the bar. I cannot wait to see the latest creative installment from the Shrub Master, aka, you!

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