RHUBARB SIMPLE SYRUP
Who knew that something so simple could be so good? We had such a snowy and cold spring that I was fearful that my dozen rhubarb plants would suffer a dismal and sad harvest, but the sunny, record high temps and lots of frequent May and June rainstorms have created a bumper crop this year! Skipper thinks I'm a little crazy because I have so many different varieties of rhubarb plants, and I've got them planted all over the yard - each earmarked for a vintage recipe or something new, but always special!
One of the first things I make each spring is a batch of Rhubarb Simple Syrup. This simple, slightly tart and slightly sweet syrup is wonderful in sparkling water, lemonade, iced tea, in your favorite summertime cocktail, or drizzled on ice cream, crepes or pancakes. My favorite use for Rhubarb Syrup is as a cocktail mixer in Rhubarb Bellinis, Rhubarb Mojitos and Frozen Rhubarb Slushes. SO GOOD!
For all the dozens of times I've made this thru the years, this recipe doesn't get any easier! Three simple ingredients...one perfectly wonderful Rhubarb Simple Syrup. Fresh rhubarb, sugar and water. That's it!
Whether you are picking rhubarb from your own garden or from your local farmers' market, I try to pick the pinkest and rosiest rhubarb stalks for this recipe. The color of your rhubarb stalk really does make the world of difference when making fresh rhubarb syrup, sauce and jam, and will vary from year to year depending on the type of rhubarb and crop conditions. Look for fresh-picked and tender stalks that are pink or red all the way thru for the "rosiest" syrup and sauces.
It's also important to use nonreactive cookware when you are cooking with rhubarb - now is the time to use your stainless steel, nonstick pans, or anodized aluminum or enameled cookware. Reactive cookware (aluminum, unlined copper and unseasoned cast iron) give acidic foods an "off" flavor and will usually discolor them to a dingy brown if they are in contact with the reactive surface for a long time. Keep this in mind when you are working with tomatoes as well for best results.
OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO USE RHUBARB SYRUP:
Now that we've got a double batch of this whipped up, it's time to figure out how to enjoy it first...and second...
I've seen bottles of "gourmet" rhubarb syrup, but when it is so simple and easy to make your own at home, why wouldn't you? You can also be as creative as you like in adding a cup of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries when you are cooking this up. Subtle changes in flavor, fabulous changes in color. Don't you just love it when you can create your own "garden to table" recipes and control every element of what you will be feeding your family?
And save the rhubarb pulp that is leftover from making this sweet and simple syrup. It is so good spooned or spread on so many different things!
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. Wash the rhubarb in cold water, trim the ends, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heavy non-reactive saucepan and stir. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rhubarb is falling apart and the color has bled into the syrup, about 20 to 25 minutes. (The longer it simmers, the more syrupy it will become). Skim any foam that forms on the top with a large spoon and discard. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. As soon as it is cool enough to handle, ladle into a fine-mesh strainer over a spouted bowl. I find that lining my fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth makes for a clearer syrup – but the choice is up to you – it tastes wonderful either way!
4. Press the rhubarb pulp with the back of a wooden spoon, straining the syrup, save the rhubarb pulp.
5. Let syrup and rhubarb pulp cool to room temperature, then place in separate Mason jars, cover and refrigerate immediately.
6. Covered and refrigerated, the Rhubarb Syrup will stay fresh up to three weeks, the Rhubarb pulp up to 1 week.
YIELD: 3 cups syrup
· The color of your rhubarb stalks really does make the world of difference when making rhubarb syrup, sauce and jam, and will vary from year to year depending on the type of rhubarb and crop conditions. Look for fresh and tender stalks that are pink or red all the way thru for the “pinkest” syrup and sauces. If you use rhubarb stalks that are pinky-green or light green, you can add a drop or two of red food coloring to get a pretty red hue. It’s really important to use non-reactive cookware when working with rhubarb, especially when making sauces, syrups or jams.
· Reactive cookware (uncoated aluminum, unlined copper and unseasoned cast iron) may give acidic foods an “off” flavor or discolor them a dingy brown if there are in contact with the reactive surface for a long time. Especially with rhubarb, instead of a beautiful light or dark pink color, you’ll end up with a murky brown color if cooked in reactive cookware.
· Try adding a cup of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries to the sauce for a kick of different flavor and color!
· Rhubarb Pulp is good in so many things! Add to jams, pies, muffins or spoon into fresh lemonade for a “pulpier” drink than syrup.
OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO USE RHUBARB SIMPLE SYRUP:
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