My grandad — who sadly passed away a few years ago — was a really keen gardener.
His vegetable plot was long and wide but the soil quality poor and jet black.
Nan and grandad’s house was built near a coal mine and the earth in his garden was almost like coal dust; I’ve never seen anything like it before, or since. You’d almost think that it would be too arid to sustain the growth of any plant life but year in, year out, my grandad grew the most wonderful runner beans, beetroot and rhubarb.
Whenever we went to visit, we’d always end up taking home a bag of whatever was in season; plus a jar of my nana‘s marmalade, pickled beetroot or pickled onions.
For which she was legendary.
So when grandad died and the house had to be sold one of the things I wanted to take — as a memento — was a rhubarb plant .
We have it in our garden now and my grandad would be so proud to see it growing there.
Each year, we’re treated to an abundance of rosy tinged rhubarb; cut some stalks and they’re quickly replaced with more.
Which sometimes means that we have a glut of it — and there’s only so much rhubarb crumble that one girl can eat!
We recently bought some delicious Mr Fitzpatrick’s Rhubarb and Rosehip cordial from our local farmer’s market and suddenly realised that this is exactly what we could be doing with our own rhubarb.
With a little bit of guesswork we managed to create the perfect mix.
To make some delicious homemade rhubarb cordial you’ll need:
- 500ml water
- 500g of golden caster sugar
- The juice of 1 large orange plus the zest and some of the rind
- The juice of 1 lemon plus the zest
- 6 stalks of fresh rhubarb
The method is deliciously straightforward too! Super simple and very quick.
Chop the rhubarb into nice chunks then boil it up in a pan with the orange and lemon juice, plus the zest and rind, until the rhubarb is soft and breaking up.
Then add the sugar. My preference is golden caster because it has a lovely caramel flavour but any would do — I used plain old granulated the first time and that worked nicely too.
Bubble the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Leave to cool then strain* the mix into a bottle or jug.
*We couldn’t be bothered to wait for it to strain though a muslin. If you did have the patience for this, you’d be rewarded with a beautiful clear liquid. We just used a sieve and — as a result — our cordial is cloudy.
But hey — it still tastes amazing!!!
NB: Life’s too short for waiting around for homemade rhubarb cordial to strain through a cloth! MUCH nicer to be sat in the garden drinking it :)
Serve with plain water, sparking water or — ahem — Prosecco (depending on what time of day it is). And a liberal helping of ice.
Or you can even turn it in to an amazing cocktail!!
I suppose (as this is a recipe) I should be able to tell you exactly how long to keep the cordial for, but my boy and I haven’t managed to keep any for longer than two days (greedy goblins). We’ve tried to hazard a guess and we reckon that a week — in the fridge — would be a fair estimate.
One last thing I should mention! The strained rhubarb makes THE most amazing compote. Perfect when served with creamy greek yoghurt or ice-cream. Pop it in a sealed tub in the fridge and it will stay good for a week or so.
If you can manage to keep it that long ;)