Guelder Rose Shrub Drink

For ages, I have been experimenting with making wild shrubs. A shrub is a cider vinegar drink popular in the 1920s during the prohibition period in the USA.

However, its history goes back into the mists of time. In the 15th century, a shrub was a medicinal drink, which is why I am keen to grow my repertoire.

Why take isolated supplements when we can drink delicious herbal elixirs like shrubs.

The word comes from the Arabic ‘sharaba‘ meaning ‘to drink’. And although modern shrubs usually contain alcohol, with their roots in Persia and Muslim culture I am more interested in crafting non-alcoholic shrubs.

Usually, shrubs include a ton of white or brown sugar, so for this guelder rose shrub I used black raisins.

I recently taste-tested this recipe on over 100 people who have come on various foraging courses and it was unanimously given a 9 out of 10 ratings in excellence. So try it. I hope you like it.


  • 500g fresh guelder rose berries (Viburnum opulus)
  • 400g black raisins
  • 1 litre of cold water
  • raw cider vinegar


  1. Freeze the berries, then take out and pull off the stalks into a saucepan.
  2. Add raisins and water and bring to a boil. Turn down low and simmer for 60 minutes then use a potato masher at the end to crush the mixture.
  3. Cool for an hour then strain through a jelly bag overnight.
  4. When completely cold for every 100ml of liquid add 25ml of cider vinegar.
  5. Bottle and store in a cool place.
  6. Use 20ml (or more) of the guelder rose shrub concentrate and dilute with water (still or sparkling). Or ‘neck’ for a delicious mineral and nutrition-packed herbal shot.

Further Reading


  1. Hi, I have read that some people suffer with diahrroea and vomiting after eating these berries even when cooked. If they are toxic, will this toxicity be passed on through the drink?

  2. liked it until the sugar content. am diabetic and that much sugar would send me into overload and death. Is sugar solely for “sweet” taste or serve a purpose. if sweetening only, could use stevia .

  3. Interesting idea, sounds well worth a try. I already use guelder rose berries for jelly either alone or mixed with others. They have a rather strange ‘nose’ that can be off-putting but they taste good.

  4. Thank you for this, just love the idea of using black raisins for sweetener since sugar is like a toxic elements for us, thank you for bringing that to us also. I am a beekeeper and some summers in Iceland give good honey so maybe I could try with honey too and see what happens. Thank you for all your wonderful teachings and suggestions…Love from Iceland

  5. Over here (in Maine), the American Highbush Cranberry is viburnum trilobum–which is a bit sweeter. Opulus is imported, but the ecolanders are encouraging us to plant our native variety. I’m anxious to try this brew of Robin’s!

    Also, I give his hawthorn jelly recipe an A+ (the one with the lemon added). It is delicious on almost anything, especially my tongue.

  6. Hi Robin,

    I just remembered I found your shrub recipe last Autumn but didn’t have time to make so frizzy the Guelder Rose berries. Do you think I could make it now with frozen berries?

    Many thanks

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