Rituals + strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

The older I get, the more impatient I seem to become.

What happened to achieving the wisdom of not sweating the small stuff and letting whatever will be to be?

Someone send me that memo again, please.

Case in point: strawberry season didn’t come soon enough for me this year. While I was ecstatic to find Ontario greenhouse berries in the grocery store at the beginning of May, what I really wanted were those Niagara berries that compel me to drive across town to the farm stand that specializes in them.

They usually show up mid-May, thanks to the farmers using plastic mulch to heat the soil and trick the plants into thinking it’s warmer than it really is so they’ll flower and fruit.

Ingredients for strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

Ingredients for strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

But mid-May came and went with temperatures that demanded I still wear a sweater and a jacket, and they didn’t do the job needed to fool those berries into growing quickly.

This week, I could stand it no longer. Get me some Niagara berries, already, I thought. I tweeted to my berry farmer friend for the scoop. Good news came back in a social media second — good thing, given my current issues with being able to chill.

Berries are here, he replied.

I picked up my daughter from day care half an hour later, and we were en route to the farm. We’re going to the berry farm, I told her excitedly as I buckled her in.

The woman working the till remembered us from last summer. This is what happens when you make a habit of showing up several times a week for a berry fix. You see, my daughter is a berry fiend, her appetite ferocious for the heart-shaped fruit. And in turn, she put the peach at risk of being usurped from its plum position of my favourite fruit ever. Last year, thanks to the frequent trips prompted by her then simple request for “Bah-wees” I ate more strawberries than I ever have. I craved them like I used to long for those fuzzy peaches if I went too long between baskets.

Strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

Macerating fruit for shrub

While I could at least wait until we paid for our quarts — and mostly flats — before I started eating them, this wasn’t so for my girl. There was a good dent in our haul before the cash register was even in sight. She gulped those berries, hulls and all.

The juice would drip down her chin, and be caught by her previously clean t-shirt. Her bliss with every bite is what turned berry-buying into a ritual — our ritual. Seeing the pure joy that my child got from something so simple was sweeter to me than the berries themselves, and I’d be reminded it was time to return a few days later when dousing her stained clothes with Spray’n Wash before doing a load of laundry.

So back we’d go. Our visits unfolded predictably: Pick up Olivia from day care, oblige her requests for Bah-wees, head to the farm stand, grab our berries, eat some berries, pay for our berries. Repeat.

Strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

Strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub with sparkling water

I warned the woman when I saw her Wednesday after so many months without contact: She’d be seeing a lot of us this summer.

And I made a mental note to buy some stain remover next time I was the grocery store.

It’s ritual season, after all.

Strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

Strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub

It's difficult for berries to survive long enough in my presence to be turned into anything rather than be eaten unadulterated. But if you have some berries that maybe got overlooked for a few days, or if you have the willpower to not down a quart as soon as you get your hands on it, this recipe is a simple one to make.

A shrub is a drinking vinegar made with macerated fruit and a vinegar of choice. It's sweet and tart, and with the addition of ginger to this one, it's got a bit of heat. And it's worth the wait. (It takes two days to make but the hands-on time is only 10-15 minutes.)

I used verjus for a more subtle sour taste. Verjus is made with unripened grapes culled during veraison, that point in the growing season where wine grapes start to change colour and ripen. Those that don't show signs of ripening get cut from the vine and the enterprising grape grower presses the rejects for this wonderful vinegar substitute that can also be used in salad dressing. Bonus: it will never clash with your wine like other vinegars.


  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb finely diced
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup verjus or champagne vinegar
  • 1 ince piece of ginger, grated
  • Sparkling water or champagne
  • Day 1
  • Combine fruit, sugar and ginger in a bowl, stirring until well-combined and fruit is coated in sugar.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap or cheese cloth. After a few hours, you'll see the juices being extracted from the fruit. Leave the covered bowl on your kitchen counter overnight.
  • Day 2
  • Put bowl in the fridge and leave overnight.
  • Day 3
  • Strain macerated fruit and juices into a measuring cup and pour juice into a 500 mL mason jar. Add verjus. Cover and leave in fridge until ready to use.
  • Shrub will keep for up to 10 days if using verjus; up to a month if using vinegar.
  • To Drink
  • Add one to two shots of shrub to an ice-filled glass and top up with sparkling water. Add a shot of your favourite vodka, or use champagne instead of sparkling water for a more adult version.
  • Notes

    I get my verjus from the Niagara Local Food Co-op but Featherstone Estate Winery in Vineland also makes and sells it.

    If you don't have verjus, champagne vinegar makes a great substitute for this recipe.


    15 Scrumptious Strawberry Recipes

    Check out these other strawberry recipes from my fellow Canadian Food Creatives (#CDNfoodcreatives):

    Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries by Food Mamma

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Covered Strawberries by 365 Days of Easy Recipes

    Dark Chocolate Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes by She Bakes Here

    Roasted Beet and Strawberry Salad by A Pretty Life

    Simple Macerated Strawberries by She Loves Biscotti

    Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles by Homemade & Yummy

    Strawberry Ice Cream with Drunken Rhubarb by Sugarlovespices

    Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Toasted Almonds by Crumb Kitchen

    Strawberry-Rhubarb Streusel Buns by Crumb: A Food Blog

    Strawberry Rolls with Basil Cream by The Cinnamon Scrolls

    Strawberry Shortcake with Lavender Lemon Cream by My Kitchen Love

    Strawberry Streusel Shortbread Bars by The Bluenose Baker

    Strawberry Vanilla Cream Tart by Tiny Sweet Tooth

    Yogurt Cake with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb by Making Healthy Choice

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    12 responses to “Rituals + strawberry, rhubarb, ginger shrub”

    1. Jessica says:

      I’ve never heard of a shrub before, but I love recipes that you can make and let time do the rest! This is definitely on my “to-make” list this summer!

    2. Diana L. says:

      My children love strawberries as well. We’ve been known to frequent the local strawberry farm to pick our own. We pay by the pound after we’re done filling our baskets. I have to wonder how many pounds my kids eat before we get to the cash! Ooops. 🙁

      Unfortunately I live in Northern Ontario and strawberry season doesn’t start until July.
      I’ll be saving your recipe to try out when I finally get my hands on fresh from the garden strawberries.

    3. Shrubs! I had just read about these yesterday, what a good coincidence. I love how it’s tart and sour, which is usually not what you think about when you picture strawberry drinks. But this looks fantastic and uses some delicious fresh ingredients. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    4. Looks so refreshing! I’ve never used verjus in a shrub before, although I do prefer them with champagne vinegar vs regular distilled vinegar.

      • I’m curious to try with regular distilled vinegar. Most recipes advocate cider vinegar but I have a shrub recipe in a cookbook that calls for regular old white vinegar. I’ll have to give it a try, though I’m worried it will be a bit harsh.

    5. This sounds like a very interesting drink. I wish fresh strawberries (like we have now) were available all year. This sounds like the perfect backyard BBQ drink to me!!

    6. This shrub sounds marvelous, Tiffany, and your post was beautiful. I love reading a good story to go along with the recipe and yours was a pleasure to read. Hopefully your daughter gets her fill of berries before the season is out! Thank you for participating in the collab. 🙂

    7. Jo-Anna says:

      I can’t wait for our strawberry fields to be ready for picking…there is nothing like a sun warmed strawberry! I have never tried a shrub, and now I’m definitely intrigued…I can’t resist anything with strawberries and rhubarb!

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