Make a batch of homemade rhubarb cordial for a fresh taste of summer in a glass. Tart and flavourful, this syrup is delicious mixed with plain or sparkling water. If you’ve got a rhubarb plant in your yard, you’ve got an endless supply of this unique drink.

rhubarb cordial, bottle and glass

My rhubarb is on steroids.


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… 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

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

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 tablespoon edible, dried lavender flowers
1 1/2 tsp teaspoons rosewater
3/4 cup (175 ml) honey or agave nectar, or 1 1/2 cups (315gms) 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 (½ 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.) It will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 month.

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.

Guten Appetit!


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