Rhubarb. The name can send sour shudders through you. But, thankfully, we live in the age of granulated sugar.

From rhubarb you can get juice and syrup. Why bother? For topping ice cream, for making cocktails, for rhubarb syrup Bellini, for flavoring chiffon pie, …

Okay? Lots of reasons. And, lots of recipes. I’m still trying to find a way to get juice, just juice, from this fruit. I admit it is hard and the techniques I’ve read about have universally failed.

On the other hand, recipes for syrup abound. Tomorrow, I’ll compare the results of different techniques, but today, here is a basic recipe to work from. This recipe gives you a very bright, certainly sweet red liquid that is just ever so slightly viscous. Mix this syrup with Proseco, say 4 parts Proseco to 1 of syrup, and you have a striking beverage. It is sweet, it is rhubarb, and it goes down so well at a warm Sunday brunch.

I know it is the end of rhubarb season, but you can still find it in stores. And megamarts will often carry frozen rhubarb which can be substituted [check the package to see if the frozen pieces are sweetened or not].

One note. Rhubarb recipes often call for, say, one cup of ½-inch pieces. That can be a very inexact measure. Those chunks do not fit easily into a measuring cup and there is a real difference in the “packing efficiency” of ½-inch versus ¾-inch pieces.

The solution? Weigh the rhubarb, then cut it into pieces.

Basic and Wonderful Rhubarb Syrup

Yield: about 2 cups



  • 10 ounces of rhubarb
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 ½ cups of water


Cut the rhubarb into ½-inch long pieces and place in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the sugar and water and stir to mix while on medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes. During that time, stir now and then, attempting to help the rhubarb pieces to disintegrate. Don’t obsesss.

After 25 minutes max — more on that tomorrow! — remove the saucepan from the heat. Place a sieve with medium-size openings over a metal bowl. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the sieve and let the fluid pour into the bowl. With the back of a large spoon, press on the rhubarb chunks to get the final juice out. Remember, don’t obsess.

You can save those rhubarb remains in the sieve for a rhubarb jam — something I have not attempted yet. Or just toss them and focus on the wonderful juice.

Let the juice cool to room temperature, then place in a covered container and refrigerate. The syrup should keep for up to three weeks.


Source: Inspired by Chow.com