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Rhubarb Syrup

Straining the syrup from the rhubarb solids.

Another project I’m working on was the original impetus for making this rhubarb syrup. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been experimenting with trying to make homemade campari and anyone who is familiar with that greatest of bitter aperitifs knows that it needs to be red. You can order cochineal (ground beetles that were used to dye various foodstuffs including Campari before the vegans threw a fit) online but that would have tilted the price comparison even more in favour of just buying a bottle from the LCBO.

Anyway, rhubarb syrup is red and its sour-sweet flavours will definitely work. Obviously, if you’re not making your own aperitifs this project is still worth the while. There’s no reason to throw away the rhubarb solids (they’re pretty much the same as what other recipes call a “compote”) and by separating the syrup you extend its shelf life and therefore the rhubarb season.

Chopped rhubarb with sugar and water in a saucepan, ready to be cooked.

Chopped rhubarb with sugar and water in a saucepan, ready to be cooked.

I’m not the first to say this but some of you are really loading the sugar on in your rhubarb recipes. I found some examples that called for as much as a cup of sugar for 140 grams of rhubarb. That would be insanely sweet and I don’t think the rhubarb would do much more than add colour at that point. I use half as much sugar for about twice as much rhubarb.

Rhubarb Syrup

Essentially this is the standard recipe for rhubarb compote (French for “mush”) but the solids are separated (and need not be discarded) from the sweetened liquid, or syrup.

Yield: 290 mL or so

  • 350 g rhubarb stalks, washed, leaves discarded, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 115 g (about 1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and set lid slightly ajar. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the pot’s contents to your largest fine-mesh strainer set over your largest measuring cup. Use a wooden to stir the pulp in the strainer so that it all has an opportunity to strain through but don’t press too hard or the syrup will become cloudier than desirable.
  • Refrigerate in separate containers. The rhubarb solids will last about a week and the syrup closer to a month.

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One Comment

  1. Have you made any progress on your homemade campari? I tried it myself some time ago but was not able to get it as bitter as I would have liked. I’m waiting for Seville oranges to come back in season now to try again. I wrote about my experience here –

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