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Orange and Raspberry Shrub

orange shrub vs rapsberry shrub

The border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very proper for raspberries.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
February 8, 1807

The word Shrub comes from the Arabic word sharab, which literally means “to drink” (it’s also the same word which gave us syrup and sherbert). The first mention of this word in the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1747 and its meaning (beyond that of the “woody plant or bush”) is “any of various acidulated beverages made from the juice of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients, often including alcohol.”

Both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic (using vinegar) versions of these drinks are refreshing on a hot summer day. Commonly made in an orange, lemon or berry flavor and bottled, they would last all season long in a time before refrigeration. The presence of the brandy or vinegar added a bit of a bite to this non-carbonated, early soft drink and helped to prevent it from spoiling in the warm weather.

Citrus Shrub

“Take two quarts of brandy, put it into a large bottle, and put into it the juice of five lemons, and the peels of two, and half a nutmeg; then stop it up and let it stand three days, after which add to it three pints of white wine; a pound and a half sugar; mix it, strain it twice through a filtering bag, and then bottle it up. This is a fine cordial.”
John Davies, The Innkeeper and Butler’s Guide, or, a Directory in the Making and Managing of British Wines, 1808

A Modern Version of Citrus Shrub (Alcoholic)

  • 1 pint Orange Juice
  • Zest and juice of three lemons
  • 2 Quarts Rum

Combine these ingredients in a gallon jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for three days.

In a large saucepan, mix 4 Cups sugar with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly to create a simple syrup. Add this syrup to the rum and juice mixture. Cover the jar and let the mixture stand at room temperature for two weeks. Strain the mixture and bottle.


Raspberry Shrub

A Raspberry Shrub Recipe (Non-Alcoholic)

(Martha Lloyd’s recipe for Raspberry Vinegar could also be adapted instead for a refreshing berry drink suitable for all ages)

  • 4 cups fresh Blackberries or Raspberries, about 16 ounces
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • cold water
  • ice

Place berries in a non-metal bowl or pitcher; add vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap or lid; refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Strain mixture into a saucepan, pressing blackberries to extract all liquid. Discard solids then stir in sugar. Boil 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat and let cool. Store in a tightly covered jar or pitcher. For each serving, combine 1/4 cup of the blackberry concentrate with 1 cup cold water; pour over ice in glasses.

Makes enough concentrate for about 12 servings.



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Lemon Acid

In an age dominated by “instant” and ready made food, it is amusing to find advertisements, like the following, from the May, 1814 issue of Ackerman’s Repository, for early forms of “fast food”. In this case, the product is Lemon Acid, more commonly known as citric acid.

Citric acid was first isolated in 1784 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who crystallized it from lemon juice. Surprisingly, the “modern” convenience of on-the-go lemonade packets is actually nothing new! Modern citric acid or conventional lemon juice might answer for the acid in the following recipes.

Spyring and Marsden’s
Lemon Acid
For Punch, Lemonade, Sauces, and other Domestic Purposes

This Acid possesses all the grateful flavour of the lemon, makes most excellent Punch, Lemonade, Shrub, and Negus, instantly dissolve* in warm or cold water. It is also adapted for every purpose in cookery, where the lemon is required, such as sauces, jellies, &c. &c.

The constant demand for lemons, and the difficulty of obtaining them in many places, encouraged the Proprietors to offer to the Public thiss valuable Acid, which has, in domestic use, been found superior to any other article of this description, as it not only affords the acidity, but the most agreeable fragrancy of the lemon.

The convenience of this Acid for Taverns and Inns is sufficiently obvious, as it will make punch, &c. at any time of the year, equally rich as with the fruit. For balls and assemblies this elegant preparation is particularly desirable, as lemonade and negus may be made in the most easy and expeditious manner.

Families will also find it extremely useful to keep by them, it being’ so finely powdered as to dissolve immediately, which prevents the usual trouble of pushing lemons at table.

It is particularly recommended to Officers and Gentlemen when travelling, as it takes but little room, and, with the addition of sugar, will make a pleasant beverage.

Captains of ships and others going long voyages, will find it an useful addition to their stores, as it will keep good a considerable time.

The Following Proportions May Be Used For:

Punch .—A large tea-spoonful of Lemon Acid, a quarter of a pound of sugar, a quart of boiling water, half a pint of rum, and a quarter of a pint of brandy. For a tumbler, a little acid on the handle of a spoon is sufficient. It is necessary to make the sherbet rich with sugar before you add the spirits.

Lemonade .—A large tea-spoonful of the Acid, a quarter of a pound of sugar, and two pints and a half of water.

Shrub .—One gallon of rum, six pints of water, two pounds and a half of lump sugar, and one ounce bottle of Lemon Acid.

The above quantities to be varied as agreeable; also for sauces, jellies, soups, puddings, &c.

Prepared only by them, at No. 163, BOROUGH, London.

Sold in bottles at 2s. 6d. by most Oilmen, Druggists, Grocers, and Libraries, in Town and Country.

Also, their grated Lemonade, in boxes at 3s. containing powders for eight tumblers.

Their Portable Lemonade, in packets, at 2s. for eight tumblers, which also only requires the addition of water.

Spyring and Marsden request those who wish to have either of the above, to notice their name on the bottle, wrapper, and box, otlierwise they may be disappointed in not having the article they expect, as their Acid and Lemonade have been copied by several persons. They think it necessary to annex this caution, as many have been already deceived.

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