Yesterday I posted about making rhubarb syrup. The recipe, for Basic and Wonderful Rhubarb Syrup, is repeated below.

What I have done here is some experimentation with the sugar. The recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar for 10 ounces [about 1 cup] of rhubarb. If you look at the many rhubarb syrup recipes online, you find an incredible array of relative proportions for the rhubarb and sugar. In the picture above you see four experiments:

  • 1 to 1
  • 1 to 2
  • 1 to 3
  • 1 to 2 but cooked forever

The basic 1 to 2 recipe below yields an excellent quality syrup. Slightly more viscous than water, sweet but definitely rhubarb. The 1 to 1 recipe on the left gives the same color but it’s distinctly less sweet. And the 1 to 3 combo was too sweet. Even for me.

Now, all these experiments were made from the same order of rhubarb. You have to consider that the rhubarb you buy may well differ in its inherent sweetness. The rhubarb here was perfectly ripe with the stalks that strong, dark red with no green showing.

Ah, the sample on the far right, the one that is “1 to 2 but cooked forever.” The Olympics are on. I was watching the sprinters because in high school I was the fastest kid in Oregon at 180 meters. The actual race was 200 meters, which had certain career impacting implications.

Anyway, Sunday night, I had started this batch and got caught up in the track and field events. The twenty-five minutes of cooking time became three hours.

The result? That dark liquid is more viscous than molasses and has a most intense caramelized flavor with spikes of rhubarb peeking through. It’s interesting. I would not use it in a cocktail. But on ice cream or on top of pound cake, it’s a winner.

The bottom line: there is no one recipe that you must follow. Your results will differ from mine but the basic idea, create a sweet syrup with that wonderful rhubarb flavor, well that idea is a fruitful one.

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 obsess.

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