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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

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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


  • 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 has foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and executed the food styling for a Super Bowl commercial seen by over 160 million people. She is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and chef for Food Network Kitchen. Virginia lost 65 pounds and has kept if off for over 3 years. Her health journey has been documented in Eating Well, as a cover story for Woman’s World, Allrecipes, and AARP. Virginia has embraced her new outlook on life and has become a cheerleader for those wanting to make their own life changes, “If a French-trained Southern chef can do it, you can, too!” Her cookbooks include Fresh Start: Cooking with Virginia My Real Life Daily Guide to Healthy Eating and Weight Loss; Secrets of the Southern Table, Lighten Up, Y’all, Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, Okra, and Grits. She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart, 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 Alex vs America, The Rachel Ray Show, Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Virginia has also been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52. She has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. Fans love her down-to-earth attitude and approachable spirit. Learn more about Virginia and Good and Good for You Living, a real life health and wellness approach for mind, body, and spirit that includes food, fun, and fitness at

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