I know, I know, rhubarb is so passé for this season but I have loads and loads of rhubarb in my garden that just doesn't care about that and keep on growing wether in season or not. Of course I too do my part to prelong the season by cutting the flower and seed stalks as soon as they start forming. Contrary to popular opinion, rhubarb plants do not become poisonous after flowering starts, but it does reduce the vigor of the plant and shorten its stalk producing season. So in the wait for red currant and raspberries, I use my rhubarbs to make all sorts of preserves, jams, cordials and chutneys.
|the little buggers - the rhubarb flowers|
I have tested cooked and raw cordials and here is the verdict: the ones where you soak the lemon slices overnight or sometimes for 48 hours, become bitter and we don't like bitter, do we?
I made one with redcurrant, that came out very well, but it tasted more of redcurrants then rhubarb. So if you don't necessarily want a vlean rhubarb taste for your cordial, I can really recomment this one.
I have also made a batch of Rhubarb rose water cordial from Sybil Kapors Taste. It tasted summery and fresh -just as stated- but we couldn't detect the slightest taste of rhubarb it tasted only of rosewater.
Rhubarb redcurrant cordial
600ml sugar for every 1000ml released juice
Cut rhubarb stems in 1cm chunks and rinse. Mix with redcurrant and water in a pan and boil until the fruits become mushy. Tip into a jelly bag suspended over a clean bowl and leave to drip for a few hours.
Return the liquid into the pan measuring it first and add 600 ml sugar for every liter liquid. Bring to the boil and let simmer for a few minutes, constantly skimming off the scum.
Pour into sterilised bottles while still warm. I never use preservatives, so I boil the cordials in the bottles and then let cool very, very slowly, well muffled in lots of tea towels, blankets and a duvet. This way the cooling process can take up to 3-4 days.
Rhubarb rose water cordial
This makes a delicious, refreshing summer drink and is a good way to use up excess garden rhubarb, as you can freeze it in batches.
680g trimmed rhubarb
680g granulated sugar
1 lemon, juiced
a generous teaspoon distilled rose water
Cut the rhubarb stems into 2.5cm chunks. Mix with the sugar in a china bowl. Cover and macerate for an hour. Add 250ml water and transfer to a non-corrosive saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat, bring to the boil, then simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb disintegrates and releases its juice. Tip into a muslin jelly bag suspended over a clean bowl and leave to drip for 6 hours.
Return the liquid to a non-corrosive saucepan and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. It should reduce by about 100ml. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and pour, while warm, into a sterilised bottle or jar. Once cold, add the distilled rose water. Seal, shake and store in the fridge.
To serve, put a few ice cubes in a glass, add cordial to taste, top up with cold water or soda and stir.
So last but not least, here comes the winner...drum roll...
Best Rhubarb Cordial
1,5liter (1500ml) water
1 lemon, juice of
1. Cut rhubarb stems in 2cm chunks and rinse
2. Throw rhubarb into boiling water and cook until soft.
3. Tip into a muslin jelly bag and leave to drip for about 30 minutes.
4. Return the liquid into a non-corrosive saucepan, add lemon juice and sugar and boil until the liquid is clear. (During the whole process you are constantly skimming off the scum)
5. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.
As I don't use preservetives, I usually simmer the jam jars or cordial bottles in a saucepan filled with water for 20-30 minutes. Then, while still hot, I cover them with everything I can find: tea towels, blankets, a duvet, to slow down the cooling process. After a few days when totally cold, I dig them out and store them in a cool, dark place. As soon as you open the bottle, you need to keep it in the fridge, otherwise it gets spoiled easily.