It’s a cruel, cruel summer without rhubarb, that sour stalk that adds zip to tarts, jams and pies. Yesterday, we picked up the last 4 stalks in the store (more in today) anticipating that we’d have just enough to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. But it was not to be.
Rhubarb is easy to work with. Take off the leaves if any are attached (they’re poison), then chop. Some people peel them but we found our stalks to be fresh enough that the outer portion was just as tender as the inside. Because they’re crisp and chop easy, we had the kids help. That’s where the trouble started.
Kids tend to have a taste for the sour stuff and at some point one of our little mincing minions must have realized that if they were in the kitchen, what they were working with was likely edible. Due to shrinkage caused by sampling, we ended up with only a cup and a half of chopped rhubarb, not the 3 required for a pie. Rhubarb is technically a veggie, not a fruit. And we couldn’t really yell at them for eating their vegetables, could we?
So we did the next best thing with the remnants of our rhubarb – we boiled them with water and sugar and made a rhubarb simple syrup. With soda and fresh squeezed lime juice added for the kids (and a dash of lemon vodka added for us) and strawberry garnishes for all, we had the essence of a pie, if not the real thing.
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
Adapted from a recipe by Carrie Floyd, from the Culinate Kitchen collection
1½ cups rhubarb, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1½ cups water
Place rhubarb, sugar, and 1½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the syrup is bright pink. Remove from heat and cool. Strain syrup into a large jar. Reserve cooked and strained rhubarb for use as a compote over ice cream.
The simple syrup can be used in any number of cocktails. Easy non-alcoholic rhubarb soda:
cup of ice
1 oz rhubarb simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
3 oz soda water
Pour syrup, lime juice and soda water over ice. Garnish with slice of lime or strawberry.
For the adults we used the classic proportions of a margarita with lemon vodka instead of tequila to make a rhubarbarita:
1 1/4 oz Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka
1 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 oz rhubarb simple syrup
Combine in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Serve up in a cocktail glass or over ice in a collins glass with a splash of soda water.
Some other cocktail ideas we found inspiring:
Rhubarb Cosmopolitan from Culinate Kitchen
Rhubarb Mojito from Brooklyn Farmhouse