Sunday, 13 June 2010
Yes, that's rhubarb, twice over.
It would be true to say that, once the first signs of summer arrive, I develop a bit of a rhubarb habit. I don't think it controls me, but on balance, it's probably a good thing that it's not available all year round. Any which way it's possible to do so, I'll consume it. Compotes, jams, fools, pies, crumbles, jellies, cakes - I've been there, done them, and will no doubt do them many more times yet.
But drinks - not so much. Not until this year, anyway, when several conversations with various Tweeters, and especially @goodshoeday (a veritable doyenne of bottling all things fruit and veg), and the acquisition of Mary Prior's rather brilliant little book, Rhubarbaria, made me think it was high time I tried making my own rhubarb beverages, too.
And now that I have, I can tell you that it's a dangerous path to tread. Making rhubarb drinks is so darned easy, for one thing. And the results are just too good to make you want to settle for anything less. You WILL be making them time and time again. Consider yourself thoroughly warned.
Thus far I've made a ridiculously simple and oh-so-refreshing rhubarb and orange cordial, which involves nothing more than a bit of a boil-up of, well, rhubarb, orange, lemon, and sugar:
Pretty, innit? And even prettier at the end, when the finished product has a pinky-peachy glow to it. I recommend you make this recipe EXACTLY as Lotte Duncan suggests - the balance of flavours, sweetness and acidity is perfect, and so much better (and far less sticky) than any shop-bought varieties. Make it up exactly as you would any other cordial.
Of course, there are times when only a drop of the hard stuff will do. At such times, rhubarb vodka is your friend.
There are so many recipes for this that you're spoiled for choice, frankly. I refer you back to @goodshoeday's blog for one way of making it, but in this instance, I used one of Mary Prior's recipes:
300g/12 oz rhubarb, chopped
120g / 4 oz sugar
60 ml / 2 fl oz water
1 litre vodka
Cook the rhubarb with the sugar and water until tender. Put in a large glass storage jar or bowl. Cool. Add the vodka and cover. Store for about a week. Strain the vodka off the fruit pulp and bottle. Leave to mature for a bit. (Ha! Define 'a bit'...)
HOW EASY IS THAT?? No excuses, you CAN make this.
I love this stuff. I particularly love it neat, poured over 3 or 4 large ice cubes, in a large glass. I don't know why (and I'd be grateful if someone could explain), but adding the ice cubes seems to bring out more of the rhubarb flavours than if you omit them and simply drink the vodka chilled. Answers on a postcard, please.
Meanwhile, I'm off for a little sip of something...