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Strawberry Shrub aka “The Shelby”

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. (That means I make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.)

Are you concerned your liver might cry uncle before lockdown ends? Need an NA alternative? Or, you need to spritz up your afternoon cocktail? Check out my Strawberry Shrub! A shrub is a tart fruit syrup that dates back to hundreds of years ago. It’s a combination made from fresh fruit, sugar, and vinegar.

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Food Waste Prevention

Prior to refrigeration, shrubs were a way to preserve the fruit harvest. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, often mixed with water as a refreshing thirst quencher. (And, yes, they are good with vodka although back then I am sure they used rum.)

Making a fruit shrub is a great way to prevent food waste; I made this with some soft strawberries about to spoil. Right now especially, I want to prevent food waste! Of course, you don’t want to use rotten fruit, but a few soft spots are fine. The result is a sweet, acidic base that can be enjoyed on its own or used in a variety of mixed drinks.  Other fruits to consider are blueberries, blackberries, plums, peaches, and cherries. I love using soft fruit, but other herbs and spices can be used, as well.

Shrubs are easy. It’s loosey-goosey. Combine some fruit and add vinegar and sugar to taste. Simmer it a bit and let is steep. Sometimes I also simply use a cold maceration process, with no heat. One way or the other, strain it and you are good to go. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so. Delicious!

Steel Magnolias on

Steel Magnolias

I’ve named my shrub “The Shelby” in honor of Steel Magnolias — one of my favorite movies. Y’all remember the scene in Truvy’s Beauty Parlor. It’s not just pink! It might be blush or bashful.

Truvy (Dolly Parton)What are your colors, Shelby?

Shelby (Julia Roberts)They’re blush and bashful.

M’Lynn (Sally Field)Her colors are pink and pink.

ShelbyMy colors are blush and bashful, Mama.

M’LynnHow precious is this wedding gonna get, I ask you?

ShelbyMy colors are blush and bashful. I have chosen two shades of pink, one is much deeper than the other.

M’LynnBut the bridesmaids dresses, they are really beautiful.

ShelbyCeremony will be too. The walls are banked with sprays of flowers, and my two shades of blush and bashful. Pink carpets especially laid out for my service, and pink silk bunting, draped over anything that would stand still.

Strawberry Shrub on

Raising Dough for No Kid Hungry

We all have to do what we can to help out in this time of need and crisis. I am excited to partner with NYT best-selling author Mary Kay Andrews for a Facebook Live on Thursday 23 April at 7 pm EST so we can raise some dough for No Kid Hungry! It’s a live cooking demo and we’re making a Fluffy Southern Chicken Biscuit with Hot Honey Mustard. Yum!

Make sure to watch on Mary Kay Andrews’ Facebook page:

1 in 7 children in America live with hunger. So we are sharing our passion for food because we want to end childhood hunger in America. Join us! Your gift of just $50 connects kids to 500 meals!

Donate during the event and be entered to win prizes from our generous sponsors: Big Green Egg, Yum Yum Smile Shop by Libbie Summers, The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, TN, Lodge Cast Iron, Tony Chachere’s, Stuckey’s, St. Martin’s Press, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Please make sure to watch – I am sure it’s going to be a blast!

Donate (and enter to win) HERE

Raising Dough with Mary Kay Andrews for No Kid Hungry

I’m going to end with my absolute favorite quote from Steel Magnolias, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Y’all take care. Stay safe.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Virginia Willis

Need a mail-order source for sustainable seafood – use this link OR promo code VIRGINIA for $25 off

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Strawberry Shrub

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Appetizer, beverage
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: cocktail, drink, food waste, mocktail, steel magnolias
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Virginia Willis


  • 8-10 strawberries halved (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or to taste
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Soda for serving, optional
  • Vodka for serving, optional
  • Mint for serving


  • Place the strawberries, sugar, and vinegar in a bowl. (I left the stems and leaves on.) Mash with a potato masher. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain and transfer to a sealable glass container. To serve, fill a glass with ice. Add a couple of tablespoons of shrub. Top with soda water, vodka -- or both. Garnish with mint. Think of Steel Magnolias and enjoy.


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Copyright © 2020 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. (That means I make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.)

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking -- but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Virginia is a chef instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen and author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and follow her traveling exploits at

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