Rhubarb Cordial

Rhubarb leaves
Rhubarb leaves greater than my wildest expectations!

While it was windy the other week, lately it has been so calm than it would be easy to rebuke the naysayers who frequently declared “ohh it will be windy there.”  If you only came to visit once and it was this week, you would think the wicked winds of the west wouldn’t be at all possible.  It is just too lovely!

Rhubarb cordial
Wash and chop the rhubarb in to 1-2 cm chunks.

But they lurk in the background waiting for an opportunity to tussle the place and I need to be wary.   And a recent casualty of the wind has been my rhubarb.  To be honest it was a victim of its own success.  It is a rags to riches story at best.  At worst it is just a rhubarb plant in my hands.   I’ve never been great with rhubarb, but it turns out it was more that it didn’t care for wet feet and so failed to thrive.  In that it made thin spindly stalks and small leaves and never more than a modest harvest.  So really the fault wasn’t mine at all.

Rhubarb cordial
For flavour I added the tangy zest of two manderins and a knob of grated ginger.

Here in the new place there is no chance of getting wet feet, so I purchased a plant with great anticipation of something better than before.  I even deliberately tried to get the red stemmed kind and all of the young seedlings in the garden centre were positively glowing with a delightful ruby colour.  Although now as they mature, they seem to be more green but tinged with red.  Never mind, it’s still rhubarb.  The thing is I probably went to the garden centre too early as the rhubarb bed wasn’t built yet so, the poor thing had to linger on the side lines in its pot for longer than I would have ideally liked.  Keeping plants in pots alive has always been a bit of a struggle for me!

Rhubarb cordial
Put it all into a large pot and barely cover with water, bring to the boil and reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the rhubarb has been reduced to a pulp. Stir often to stop it burning on the bottom.

Finally, the bed was made and enriched with loads of goodies, swamp soil, blood and bone, sheep pellets and Yates Dynamic Lifter.  It was all mixed in and the rhubarb plant settled in to the centre of the 1 x 1m bed it was to occupy all by itself, aside from a few marigolds to make the place look pretty.

Rhubarb cordial
Strain through a cheese cloth or clean tea towel overnight. Fortunately I had one that had seen better days and was so thin you could almost see through it and it was almost no longer good for drying dishes.

It seemed happy enough there, until Snowy the Goat broke loose and decided to have a munch.  There wasn’t much left, and I toyed with the idea of going back to the garden centre for another one like I did for the blueberries.   The blueberries weren’t that damaged, but she’d eaten all the unripe berries that I had specifically selected the plant for and was anticipating a decent harvest in the first season.  I went back to the garden centre and bought two more equally laden, only to have Snowy the Goat escape once again and eat all my blue potential….  Again.  In the end I just planted all four plants and expect the plants will settle in all the better without the burden of fruit to develop.

Rhubarb cordial
Measure out the liquid you were able to drain off and put back into a clean pot.

But in all the drama the rhubarb stayed put and a new plant wasn’t sought.  Which is just as well as the ‘pruning’ must have stimulated the growth, that and the quality soil it was planted in, as it just took off.  The stems were so large I could hardly wrap my thumb and forefinger around them and the leaves where massive.  And this was their undoing.  When the wind picked up, the leaves became like sails and took the strain, loosening the stems at the base.  Then the wind changed direction and attempted to finish the job of destroying my plant.  The biggest stems were barely hanging on.

Rhubarb cordial
For every litre you get add 500g of sugar. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar. It becomes a rather thick syrup but you won’t be using much when diluting it to make a refreshing drink.

I know you aren’t supposed to harvest from rhubarb in the first season, but it just had to be done to repair the damage.  Besides the way they had grown I figured it wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  And waste not want not I took them into the kitchen to turn them into a refreshing rhubarb cordial that the kids probably won’t like so I will be all mine to quench my thirst while working in the garden.

Rhubarb cordial
Pour into sterile bottles. It should be able to be kept for at least 3 months, but once you start using it, keep it in the fridge. Mine probably won’t last that long, and I can see myself using it with chilled fizzy water, a drop in a glass of bubbly or maybe even to zing up a G&T! Hopefully I’ll be able to dissuade the kids from using it or it will be gone in a week as they stay hydrated in the heat of summer.

It is quite a simple recipe and the detailed instructions can be found beneath the images in this post.  I hope you try and enjoy it.

Come again soon – the garden is almost finished – in more ways than one.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

3 thoughts on “Rhubarb Cordial

  1. This looks very refreshing and as I have a massive abundance of rhubarb I will give this recipe a go. Some people may even like it! I find with rhubarb you either love it or hate it and this might change opinions 😁

  2. Not many grow rhubarb anymore. Mine happens to be the same rhubarb that I grew when I was a little kid. Pups have been sent to a few gardens. My cousin in Oregon probably grows the same. I got it from my great grandfather before I was in kindergarten.

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