Shrub Farm: Drink to your health
Ten years ago, Josh and Tomo Kramer met while studying massage in Maui.
If the couple would’ve been asked then what they thought they’d be doing in a decade, they probably wouldn’t have guessed they’d be small-business owners making and selling a healthy elixir called shrub—a vinegar preserve infused with fresh fruit and herbs that is chock full of enzymes, vitamins and a living culture, the Mother of Vinegar.
However, since Tomo was a nationally certified chef and Josh had studied food preservation and process control in college, it wasn’t a stretch for them to eventually look for innovative ways to put their culinary smarts to use.
A trip to Japan to visit Tomo’s family provided just the “aha!” moment they were looking for. After her mother served them a refreshing and delicious blueberry-vinegar drink made using raw-pressed fruit that had been steeped in raw vinegar—a process that keeps the vitamins and enzymes intact—they knew they were on to something.
Back in Hawaii, they experimented making their own shrub with apple cider vinegar and tropical fruit and flowers such as pineapple, fresh ginger, guava and hibiscus. In diluted form, the shrubs paired perfectly with sparkling or still water, or in cocktails, salad dressings, marinades and more. In 2016, Maui Shrub Farm was born (as was their son, Harley). The following year, the family moved to Bellingham—where Josh was raised—and Cascade Shrub Farm was added to the roster.
These days, the name of the business has been shortened to Shrub Farm, but the Kramers continue to source their fruit and herbs from local, organic growers in both states and use organic vinegar sourced by apple growers in Washington. Ginger and Hawaiian chili shrub is the bestseller, but those looking to use the potent concoctions to make the perfect craft soda, mixed drink or “mocktail” also get behind the other flavors, which include raspberry and citrus, pineapple and sage, hibiscus and orange, shiso and citrus, ginger and apple, and blueberry lemon.
“People often initially want to drink our shrub for the health benefits,” Tomo says, pointing out that the Mother of Vinegar bacteria is said to support healthy digestion. “But when they try it, they say they love the taste.”
If you’d like to sample Shrub Farm’s offerings for yourself, make your way to the Bellingham Farmers Market every Saturday through December to sample the goods. The shrubs are also sold online and at food co-op’s in Bellingham, Mount Vernon, and Anacortes; Haggen stores throughout the state; Old World Deli; Made in Washington stores in Seattle and beyond; and a growing number of eateries.
“We’d like to expand,” Josh says, noting they hope to get more restaurants and bars to carry their products, which support local growers, are gluten-free, are shelf-stable, and don’t contain GMOs. Another project, Apple State Vinegar—which will see a percentage of proceeds going to supporting orca whales and healthy marine life—is also in the works.
“Our shrub is delicious,” Josh says, “and everyone deserves to try it.”
For more details and recipes, go to http://www.shrub-farm.com
The mojito gets a Cascadian update with fresh mint and our Raspberry and Citrus Shrub. It’s refreshing and light, thanks to white rum and plenty of bubbles. You’ll want to sip this one in the Caribbean, but if you’re not on a tropical island at the moment, just close your eyes and imagine!
8 fresh mint leaves
1 oz. Raspberry and Citrus Shrub
2 oz. white rum
Mint leaf (garnish)
In a sturdy glass add mint and shrub. Using a muddler, crush the mint to release the mint oils. Do not strain the mixture. Fill glass almost to the top with ice and add white rum. Top with sparkling water. Stir, taste, and add more shrub if desired. Garnish with a mint leaf and a lime slice. Note: chocolate mint is a great pairing.