Categories
Chickens General Recipes

How to Make Rhubarb (and ginger) Cordial

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.

Refreshing

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.

Ginger

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.

RHUBARB CORDIAL - full size

RHUBARB CORDIAL

Ingredients

• 1.5kg rhubarb, roughly chopped
• white sugar
• lemon juice

Method

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…

Rhubarb cordial

Categories
General Recipes

Recipe: Spring Rhubarb Relish

Rhubarb

Last year I planted a Rhubarb plant. Big deal, you may say. But really, it was. According to all the gardening books, Rhubarb is a must have in the garden. It is one of the first fruits (or vegetables, to be precise) to emerge in the Spring and it is so versatile. Jams, chutneys, cordials …you name it and you can probably make it with Rhubarb.

Apple sauce

In Holland (where I am from, in case you didn’t know already) we use Rhubarb mostly as sort of an apple sauce to go with your regular potato, vegetable or meat dish. Most of the time when you buy this sauce it is brownish and a bit gloopy. I know it doesn’t sound delicious but maybe it’s an acquired taste. Anyway, my latest challenge is to convince my husband Rogier that it doesn’t have to be brown and gloopy and to convert him into a Rhubarb lover.

Pam the Jam maker

Rhubarb relishI have this book from Pam the Jam maker at River Cottage. Pam Corbin’s handbook about preserves and jams is inspirational and I think she’s great! Last year I made the chilli pepper jelly, the lemon squash and I tried making one of the jams (which didn’t work but it wasn’t Pam’s fault – I got distracted mid process and went to have a chat with my neighbour…).

Categories
General Plants

Email chat: Rhubarb and Cucumber

Laila

“Hi Bridget,

How’s your gardening life going? Here we’ve had a few days of sunshine followed again by lots and lots of rain. All our rain butts are full, including the 5,000 litre tank that we use to purify our drinking water.  This weekend we should be getting more rain so not ideal for gardening, I’m afraid.

RhubarbMy rhubarb is BIG! I read somewhere that you should leave rhubarb alone for at least a year after planting. As it was one of the first things I planted here, this year I can start to harvest it – just a few stalks. The photo here is from last year. I totally forgot to take a photo of my plant before helping myself and spoiling the look of it somewhat!

Did you know that rhubarb originated in Siberia? And that it goes really well with ginger?

In fact I’m on the look out for some recipes… In Holland, rhubarb is traditionally used to make something a bit like apple sauce, which can make it slimy and starchy (well, according to Rogier) but I always used to like my mum’s Rhubarb sauce. For my rhubarb I am thinking of making some jam, a Rhubeena (rhubarb cordial) and if there’s enough, some rhubarb ketchup!! All wonderful recipes from Pam the Jam maker.

Other news on the gardening front: I’ve planted out my French bean seedlings. I also checked on the French beans I  sowed directly and noticed that worms have pushed a few up on top of the soil. I pressed them back down again but I really hope the worms won’t do that too often…”

Bridget

“Hello Laila,

Glad to hear your rhubarb is flourishing. I don’t expect taking two or three stalks will do any harm. Did you put horse muck on your plants (I’m wondering why yours sounds so much better than mine…)? Your recipes sound interesting – I’d never thought of using it to make chutney, interesting. I used it to make wine one year but it wasn’t very pleasant – a very pretty colour but very, very dry.

As Michael isn’t a big fan (except in a crumble with custard – mmmm!) I may not harvest it and simply enjoy it as a striking architectural plant. One of them has bolted and they have the most unusual flowers… I’ll take a picture for you. Also, much to the chicken’s pleasure they can reach leaves through the fence and tear bits off to eat – I know it’s poisonous but the chickens have nibbled at it for years and haven’t come to any harm! Do you water yours a lot? I’ve heard they’re very thirsty plants and that may be where I’ve gone wrong because I tend to neglect them I’m afraid.

CUCUMBERS UN-PLANTED!At the beginning of my fortnight off I set up my cucumber frame and planted out my little cucumber plants (outdoor variety) – however, they really didn’t look happy so yesterday I UN-planted them (!) and they’re back in the green house in pots until they’re a bit bigger! Last year I had the frame facing west and I got a very disappointing crop compared to the two previous years when they faced south east and we had more cucumbers than we knew what to do with! Needless to say this year the frame is set up to face south east again – the same as our espaliered fig and peach trees.

I’m not planting anything else outside for a few weeks until the weather improves – which may not be until JUNE apparently!!!! Aaaaagh!!!!”