Let’s Toast to Summer!

Nourishing beverages refresh and nourish our microbiome.

We all know the fierce thirst that summer heat can bring. We lose electrolytes and fluid and start to feel woozy. In the old days, when people worked in the fields, they needed something refreshing that would replenish the minerals they lost through sweat.

Shrubs and Switchels are traditional beverages based on apple cider vinegar. Also known as Haymakers Punch, they are easy to make and are very refreshing.

And who knew that drinking vinegar was healthy! Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is really a marvel. It is living and has loads of healthy microbes to help us digest our food, and feed our immune system. It also has lots of minerals and antioxidants. There is some indication that it can help with weight loss, blood sugar balance and cholesterol. It is an acid, though, and can erode tooth enamel, so don’t drink it straight! Use 1-2 tablespoons and dilute in another liquid to drink.

There are a lot of ways to make Switchels and Shrubs and any combination of fruits and summer veggies that you love:

  • A cooked fruit syrup using vinegar as the liquid and sweetened to taste – use 1-2 tablespoons per serving, or freeze as ice cubes for a quick addition to some soda water.
  • A cold infusion of fruit and vinegar that ferments for a couple of days – use 1-2 tablespoons per serving.
  • A very quick version in a glass with 1 tablespoon vinegar, ¼ cup of berries or juice, topped with ice water or soda. I use this version a lot.

Fermented Blueberry Shrub

In this recipe, I am combining mashed blueberries, shredded ginger and a bit of rosemary, and will let it sit in unpasteurized cider vinegar to draw out the flavours for a couple of days in a dark cupboard.

Traditional recipes call for a ratio of 1:1:1 fruit to vinegar to sugar. 1 cup of each would make a little over 1 cup of shrub syrup once it is strained and ready to use. I don’t want that much sugar, so I have added 4 dates to bring a bit of sweetness, and that suits my tastebuds. You may want to adjust to your taste by adding more dates, or a combination of stevia and monk fruit, for a low carbohydrate sweetened version.


  • Crush blueberries with a potato masher and place in a mason jar.
  • Add 1 cup sugar or sweetener of choice, and mix together.
  • Add 1 cup unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (make sure to cover the fruit with vinegar) and mix.

Cover loosely with cheesecloth (because it will attract fruit flies!) and let sit in a dark cupboard for 2-3 days. Because the vinegar is live and has the Mother, it will ferment, and you will see a coating on the top of the mixture that looks like a kombucha scoby. This is fine. Simply strain the liquid out and store it in a jar in the fridge.

To serve, use a couple of tablespoons of syrup and top with soda or ice water for a refreshing drink. Slainte!