Taste of Spring
A quintessential British Spring staple; rhubarb is a versitile vegetable (I just discovered it’s not a fruit – thanks Google). There are loads of tasty and interesting rhubarb recipes such as cordials, compotes, crumbles and cakes. I’ve given all of the above a go over the years but nothing delivers as much ‘wow-factor’ for as little effort as my rhubarb liqueur recipe.
Grow your own
One of my favourite things about rhubarb is how easy it is to grow. In my experience it’s impossible to kill, spreads prolifically and has a long growing season, replenishing itself every time it’s picked. I’ve always had a crown or two planted in the garden, wherever I’ve lived so I’ve made my fair few rhubarb crumbles etc.
Pour some gin over it
However these days there’s really only one use for my little patch of rhubarb: liqueurs! What started a few years ago as an experiment is now my signature drink. I give out bottles of my fruit liqueurs as gifts, I’ve supplied weddings and whatever the season; there will always be a bottle or two of fruit liqueur of some kind on the go in my house. If it grows in my garden; chances are I’ve tried to pickle it in some sort of alcohol!
Rhubarb gin and vodka are some of my absolute favourites because you can get these on the go early in the year and they are so easy to make. Follow my rhubarb gin or vodka recipe and in a few weeks you will be raising a glass to this delicious vegetable!
You will need:
- Caster or granulated sugar
- Gin or vodka
- Ginger/vanilla pod(optional)
- Mason jars
I’ve never measured or weighed anything before when making these rhubarb recipes and you don’t have to either. I have tried to put in some measurements for those that want them but seriously just go with whatever looks/tastes right to you. Adapt it for how mcuh rhubarb you have available – this can be done in multiple batches. I sample my liqueurs while they’re infusing and add more sugar if necessary.
- First top, tail and wash the rhubarb. Chop it into roughly 2cm slices. Go for a diagnoal line as the more surface area you achieve; the more flavour will come out into your gin or vodka.
- Pile the rhubarb pieces into a non-leaky jar with a wide mouth. I use kilners but coffee or jam jars would do the job.
- Optional but tasty: pop in a couple of 1cm slices of ginger to add a little kick. You could even try a vanilla pod for the ‘rhubabrb and custard’ effect.
- Pour sugar into the jar. Some recipes advise a 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar for liqueurs, personally I go for less but it depends how sweet you’d like it. I normally do it by eye, ensuring that the sugar is roughly 1/4 of the way up. I weighed my ingredients today for the first time and put 100g of sugar into 450g of rhubarb. Remember it’s much easier to add sugar to make it sweeter than to deal with an over-sugared liqueur.
- Pour in your alcohol of choice. Whether you’re going for vodka or gin you really don’t have to splash out on the good stuff for this recipe. It’s fine to use the cheap and nasty stuff for fruit liqueurs as I guarantee no-one will know the difference once all those fruity flavours have infused into it. Fill the jar to a little below the rim – you need some space for the fruit to move around when you shake it. If you have less fruit (ie not a full jar) fill to the level of the fruit, ensuring everything is submerged.
- Seal the lid firmly and give everything a vigorous shake. You will need to shake your rhubarb gin/vodka daily until the sugar is dissolved. After that you can get away with shaking every 2 or 3 days until it’s time to filter.
- Leave the jar(s) in a cool dark place (bright light will bleach out that lovely pink colour) for roughly 6 weeks. I usually taste it at around 4 weeks to guage it and add more sugar at this point if needed.
- Once the liqueur is ready; strain it thoroughly at least once. You can use either muslin or coffee filter papers.
- Enjoy! Rhubarb gin and vodka are great to drink neat or with tonic, lemonade or any mixer of your choice. Squeeze a bit of lime into it and raise a toast!