We’ve had a great crop of rhubarb this year and I was wondering how best to use it… Last year it was less bountiful for some reason so we didn’t pick it at all and just took pleasure from seeing its red stems growing in the border and allowing the chickens to snack on its leaves.
Then I remembered hearing earlier in the summer a guest on BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Garden Party mention rhubarb cordial which sounded rather interesting …so I decided to give it a go and found a recipe on line by Kate McCullough. And I’m so glad I did, because it’s delicious, particularly when thoroughly chilled and as you see, such a pretty colour. The perfect refreshment when you come in after a couple of hours digging in the August sunshine.
I deviated from the recipe a bit and threw in some ginger because I love that taste combo, but in retrospect I think I was a little heavy handed with the ginger and the more delicate flavour of the rhubarb has had to take a bit of a back seat, which is a shame.
• 1.5kg rhubarb, roughly chopped
• white sugar
• lemon juice
1. Place the rhubarb in a pan with 75ml water over a low heat. Cook slowly until the juices start coming out of the rhubarb, then turn the heat up a little. Continue cooking until completely soft.2. Line a large mixing bowl with a piece of clean muslin and tip in the rhubarb. Gather the corners of the muslin and tie together. Hang the bag over the bowl for several hours to drain. (Bridget: I used a jelly bag which worked very well)
3. Measure the juice: for every litre add 750g caster sugar and 75ml lemon juice. Pour into a pan on a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat before it boils. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.
4. Serve diluted to taste – suggest one part cordial with three parts still or sparkling water.
Keep refrigerated and ENJOY – it certainly makes a refreshing change from rhubarb crumble! I’ve even heard mention of it going rather well with gin…