There is a lot to be said for the sunshine and a big bright sky. It brings cheer after a long harsh winter – and I know I haven’t experienced most of it – but London has become a dour place, and it seems as though as a city, it has been suffering from a severe Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So, what joy the sun brought with its big sky and warm sunshine. Everyone was cheerful and the parks were full. I was inspired to cook something bright and joyful. I wanted fruit and I wanted a refreshing non alcoholic drink. My mind turned to rhubarb cordial.
I love homemade cordials, I have one in my book and make many at home all the time. I finish them off with sparkling water and ice and sip as I work. After work, they sometimes end up in a cocktail.
The cordial I made is a fresh version to be consumed within the week. If you want to preserve it so that it lasts a few months, use citrate (also called citric acid) in place of the lemon (1 teaspoon for the recipe quantity below). Citrate is available in pharmacies generally although no longer in the UK, you can however order it online.
I used bright English rhubarb, not forced rhubarb but normal stuff. It was a lovely bright pink, if broader and tougher than its slender cousin. After a brief period of cooking, the cordial mixture is allowed to strain gently through a fine mesh sieve (or some muslin), releasing the bright pink cordial and leaving the darker fruit fibre behind. This incidentally, is great mixed in with yogurt for breakfast.
This recipe also works really well when you combine it with blood orange or rose extract when you are cooking the rhubarb. I make both, and adore them.
Enjoy! This is so easy and is really so delicious. The vibrant flavour and colour are something that you don’t get in the shop bought stuff, unless you are buying an artisanal one (which is also homemade, just not in your home :)
RECIPE: Rhubarb Cordial
Makes 400 – 450 ml
keeps for a week in the fridge
400g rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch segments
250g light brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
Bring the water, sugar, rhubarb and lemon juice to the boil. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has turned to mush. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Leave to strain gently through a sieve or muslin lined funnel. Leave it at least 6 hours or overnight for best results. It is best to leave this in the fridge if you can. Don’t force it, just let the juice come out naturally.
And that is it. The leftover fruit is very sweet but is good mixed in with yogurt for breakfast. I love this cordial with sparkling water but it is great for cocktails also. Recipes for those soon!