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Home on the Range: Tomato Shrub


Published August 31, 2021 at 3:28 p.m.

  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Tomato shrub
It's been a thirsty week for the Seven Days food team. We set out to explore the world of local sodas, switchels and shrubs, highlighting five drinks with spirit — but no spirits — that are ideal for late-summer sipping.

Talking to the producers of these flavor-packed non-alcoholic beverages about how they've perfected their recipes set me on a quest of my own: to dig through my cookbook shelves and find my shrub book.

Tomatoes straining for shrub - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Tomatoes straining for shrub
Tart, sweet, syrupy shrubs are traditionally made from fruit, vinegar and sugar. For years, I've been loosely following recipes from Michael Dietsch's Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, combining surplus or less-than-perfect produce with apple cider vinegar and whatever sugar I have on hand. (I've even used vegetables, with varying success.)

I found the book, thankfully, and remembered why I enjoy shrub making so much. In the introduction, Dietsch writes, "You can fly by the seat of your pants while making shrubs and still have something delicious to sip."

My surplus this week was all tomato: I had a mountain of cherry tomatoes in my pantry begging to be used, and a few squishy, almost gone-by heirlooms from my CSA share. I hedged my bets and mixed the lot together, ending up with a shrub that's equally useful as a refreshing booze-free option when mixed with seltzer and as a cocktail's secret ingredient.

Tomato Shrub

Yield: Roughly 2 cups

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (or halved, if you're using cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Combine tomatoes, salt and sugar in a jar, bowl or other nonreactive container.
  2. Crush tomatoes (using your hands or a wooden spoon) to release their juice.
  3. Cover container and place in refrigerator overnight.
  4. The next day, strain tomatoes through a mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract all the juice. Reserve juice and discard the solids.
  5. Combine tomato juice and apple cider vinegar in a bottle or jar, shaking well to mix ingredients and incorporate any undissolved sugar. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
  6. Sip shrub on its own, mixed with seltzer, as a replacement for tomato juice in a Bloody Mary or in other cocktails.
Source: adapted from Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch
Have ideas for other shrubs, questions or suggestions for future non-alcoholic drink recipes? Email them to jbarry@sevendaysvt.com.