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Strawberry Shrub aka “The Shelby”

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

Strawberry Shrub on

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.  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 it 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


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

strawberry shrub on

Strawberry Shrub

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
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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I am not a doctor, RD, health professional, or WW representative. I am simply sharing what works for me. My blog is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” 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, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, 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, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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