Forced rhubarb spends the winter in darkness, with growers traditionally harvesting only by candlelight. Whilst the rhubarb season does now stretch right through to late summer, it’s still worth preserving a little of forced rhubarb’s early magic.
When diluted with sparkling water, it makes a pretty January alternative to a cocktail, but works well with vodka and tonic too.
Traditionally, ginger pairs really well with rhubarb, but you can play around with and spices or herbs you want to add to the infusion. Star anise, cloves, and even rosemary or thyme can all make for interesting cordials. Serve with plenty of ice, and some fresh mint.
This cordial should keep for a couple of months in the fridge, or can be frozen safely.
Makes about 1.5l of cordial
2kg of rhubarb, chopped
600-1200g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
Citric acid (optional)
Wash and sterilise the bottles for your cordial.
Add the water, ginger, fruit juice and zest to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Then add the rhubarb.
Let everything simmer until the rhubarb is really falling apart.
Pour the contents of the pan into a jelly bag, hanging over a large bowl and let it drip through gently for several hours, or ideally overnight.
Pour the juice that has collected in the bowl into a clean saucepan, and add sugar until you have reached the sweetness you want. Remember this base syrup will be diluted with water when you come to drink it, so make it sweeter than you think you’d want.
Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
You can add two teaspoons of citric acid if you plan on storing the cordial for more than a month or two. It will affect the flavour however, making it more tart so adjust the sugar accordingly.
Allow the syrup to cool, then pour into your sterilised bottles.
(Recipe adapted from Sarah Raven)