Monster Rhubarb and Two Cordials

My rhubarb is on steroids.

Seriously.

It is monstrously huge.

This is our full-grown Labrador Retriever, Pippa, guarding the giant rhubarb.

I’m not sure what variety it is. It came from a piece of root my mom got, who got it from a friend, who got it from her neighbour’s second cousin, who got it from her…..you get the picture.

It has produced copious, extra large, non-woody stalks for years. It produces well all spring and summer, as long as I keep removing the taller-than-I-am seed stalks (though it is a shame because they are so showy and kind of outer-spacey looking). This year has been very wet and cool, so the rhubarb is not even at its usual prime. Some years the stalks are as thick as my wrist.

Here they are in comparison with my normal sized, regular rhubarb plant stalks.

I have been making juice lately, and cake, and stewed rhubarb, and roasted rhubarb.
A particular favourite has been my rhubarb-ade with lavender blossoms and rosewater. Mmmmm – a lovely sparkly cocktail (with maybe a touch of vodka), or a refreshing summer juice, or a light and slightly floral thirst-quencher when I add a splash of it to flavour my drinking water.

Regular rhubarb on left

Rose and Lavender Rhubarb Cordial

2.5 lbs (1.15 kg) rhubarb, cut in 3 to 4 inch pieces (about 10 cups if cut in 1/2 inch pieces)
4 cups (1 litre) water
1 Tbsp (15 ml) edible, dried lavender flowers
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) rosewater
3/4 cup (175 ml) honey or agave nectar, or 1 1/2 cups (350ml) sugar

Combine rhubarb, water and lavender flowers in a large pot.

Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rhubarb is completely softened and easily separates into strings.

Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or a clean and rinsed tea-towel and set it over a bowl. Pour the rhubarb mixture into it and let strain until no more juice drips out ( 1/2 hour or longer). Or you can strain the mixture in a jelly bag hung over a bowl.

While still warm, stir in the rosewater and honey, agave or sugar. Stir to dissolve. (Reheat lightly if the cordial has cooled too much to dissolve the sweetener.)
Let cool and funnel into a pretty container. An empty wine bottle works well.

This recipe makes 2 wine bottles of cordial – or about 6 cups (1.5 litres)
(One bottle to keep and one to give away.)

To dilute the cordial for serving, play around with the taste ratios you prefer. I like to mix about equal amounts of cordial with sparkling water over ice to make a drink cocktail, or 1 part cordial to two or three parts chilled tap water to make a summer rhubarb-ade (either in a pitcher or glass), or a small splash into a tall glass of ice-water for a light flavoured-water refresher.

Bay and Star Anise Rhubarb Cordial

(Bay and anise shown for a double batch)

Follow the proportions in the recipe above for Rose and Lavender Cordial, except substitute 2 large bay leaves and 3 star anise pods for the lavender flowers, and omit the rosewater when you add the sweetener.

Rhubarb is a spring and summer staple in our house – good for many uses, maybe even a game of hide-and-seek.

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4 Responses to Monster Rhubarb and Two Cordials

  1. Vivian says:

    Wow, Margaret, that strain of rhubarb is INCREDIBLE! Never seen the like…it must be Siberian. I think most things transplanted here from such a harsh climate go nuts with the warmer temps (Evans cherry for example.). Anytime you need to divide your clump, I would LOVE to have a starter piece. I think I live on an acreage quite close to your location just from what I’ve read in your postings. I’m on Hwy. 16 and RR 25. We seem to share the same weather anyway.

    Thanks for your very well-written and photographed blog! I found you a few weeks ago and am now starting at the beginning of your postings…hence this kind of late response.

    All the best,

    Vivian

    • Margaret says:

      Hello neighbour. I just live a few miles east of you! Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I appreciate you stopping by to read my blog. I’ll probably be taking a few chunks off my rhubarb later this summer, so I can let you know when I do that (if it’s okay to email the address submitted to the comment section?) Happy spring gardening!

  2. Shannon says:

    Oh Margaret,
    I’m just thrilled to read about your delight in rhubarb. I think that rhubarb is at the heart of Canadian identity -it grows in all our most challenging of climates. We need to claim its virtues and use it in as many ways possible. So thank you for these drinkable ideas! I’m off to pick and make some now. My fall crop is thriving since we moved the composter next to it and spread some extra horse manoure around. Its the best kind. I cant imagine what would happen to yours if you boosted it! You should really start sending starters around to everyone you can. Yeah Rhubarb!
    Shannon
    ps thank you to your most beloved sister Rosalinda who has put me on to your blog. I will be sharing it with my other foodie friends on the Sunshine Coast.

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Shannon, how wonderful to hear from you! And lucky you, to still be having rhubarb in your ‘tropical clime’. We here in northern Alberta just wish for such things, but I do have to admit it is quite beautiful here right now in an autumnal way. It’s great to hear from a fellow rhubarb lover. You’re right – rhubarb doesn’t receive nearly enough love – it’s such an amazing plant, and tough, like us Canadians! I’d be almost afraid to see what happens when I add manure to my monster plant!
      Thank you so much for visiting my blog – I’m always thrilled to hear that someone is reading my ramblings, and appreciate you sharing it, and Rosalinda for passing it on. Wishing you a wonderful Sunshine Coast Autumn!

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