This rhubarb syrup is easy to make and adds a lovely bright color and flavor to drinks and more. It's a lovely way to add that touch of sweet-tart flavor and pink tinge to cocktails, or try some over pancakes.
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Simple syrup is a common ingredient in many cocktail recipes to add that little bit of sweetness. Since sugar itself can be tricky to get it to dissolve, syrups get past that issue by being purely liquid.
But you can get creative with the sugar and water combination as well. You can easily add add a little extra flavor by infusing the syrup with herbs, spices and more. Last year I played with the idea and loved both the ginger syrup and pumpkin spice syrup that I made. I've also found thyme simple syrup great for adding a delicate herb flavor.
This rhubarb version adds both a slight tartness alongside the sweet and a beautiful burst of color.
Uses for flavored simple syrups
While the obvious use for flavored syrups like this is in cocktails, they also have a much wider use. You can add some to sparkling water for a simple soda. You can also use them more like a syrup by pouring some over pancakes or ice cream.
I've used this rhubarb version in a couple cocktails, and while the flavor doesn't fit everything, it definitely works well in a few. It pairs particularly well with lemon and gin I found, so you can add a little to sweeten up a G&T, for example or try my rhubarb Southside cocktail.
This recipe makes just a small batch, so plenty to play arounds with but not so much that you don't manage to use it relatively quickly.
Tips for making the syrup
This syrup is relatively easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, choose pink or red stemmed rhubarb. Generally, apart from the young-stemmed rhubarb, the flavor is not that different, but you'll not get such a nice color in the end syrup if the rhubarb is more green.
I have seen this made both by putting everything all together at the beginning or starting with the rhubarb and water then adding sugar after straining.
Personally I prefer to start with just simmering the rhubarb in water, then add the sugar later. This means you can measure the liquid to make sure you get the right amount of sugar. A typical simple syrup is 1:1 water (or in this case rhubarb-infused water) to sugar by volume. So, you are looking for the same here.
The other thing to note is don't press down on the rhubarb as it drains as it may make the syrup cloudy. Similarly, I recommend straining through cheesecloth in a fine strainer to strain as much of the solids away as possible.
Store the syrup either at room temperature, if you will use it quickly, or in the fridge to last slightly longer. It should keep a couple weeks, but over time, it may develop a layer of mould on the top which is a sign it's time to throw it away. As I mention above, this only makes a small quantity on purpose so there's less chance of that happening.
This rhubarb syrup is easy to make and adds a lovely bright color and gently sharp sweetness to whatever you use it in. It's great simply with soda water for a refreshing soft drink, or in a range of cocktails. You can even drizzle it over pancakes and desserts. Try some, and find your own favorite uses.
Try these other rhubarb recipes:
- Rhubarb fool (an easy, delicious creamy dessert)
- Rhubarb muffins
- Pork tenderloin with rhubarb chutney
- Plus get more spring recipes in the archives.
- ½ cup rhubarb 125g
- ¾ cup water 180ml
- ½ cup sugar 100g
- Remove the ends from the rhubarb and cut into thin slices. Add the water and rhubarb to a small pan and place over a medium heat.
- Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, partially covered, until the rhubarb is soft and the water has taken on some of its color. Try not to stir. If the liquid reduces too quickly, you can add a little more but it should only just cover the rhubarb.
- As the rhubarb is cooking, line a fine strainer with cheesecloth (a double layer is good) and place over a measuring jug or bowl. Once the rhubarb is very soft, strain the mixture through the cheescloth and let it drain into the jug/bowl below. Leave it to drain through a minute or two but don't press down on the rhubarb (as this can make the mixture cloudy).
- Once drained, discard the rhubarb (or you can use it in something else) and measure out the liquid then return it to the cleaned out pan. You should have around ½ cup (120ml), in which case add ½ cup sugar. If it's less, then use the equivalent volume of sugar.
- Return the mixture to the heat and warm gently, just enough to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before storing in a clean bottle or jar. Store in a cool place away from daylight if using soon, or else in the fridge for slightly longer storage.