It’s Hot: Time for Rhubarb Lemonade

The Rhubarb Patch

Last month, we had a delightful surprise when we were at our income property to mow the lawn–there was a healthy rhubarb patch in the back yard!  See all the leaves?  That’s the remaining rhubarb plants after I had 2 harvests, so we will have a plentiful supply all summer. I also pulled up one of the whole plants by accident that I proceeded to transplant at my house.  When rhubarb starts are planted, they cannot be harvested for 3 seasons, so now that I have a full plant I’ll be able to harvest this next year.

I love the tartness of rhubarb, so I like pretty much anything with rhubarb, doesn’t have to be sweet.  My partner, on the other hand, likes SWEET.  Last week, I made what I personally thought was the perfect rhubarb crisp from Martha Stewart (recipe here), but it was too tart for her.  I thought the sweet/tart combo was spot on.

Last Saturday’s Rhubarb Harvest

I knew all along that it’s not the rhubarb alone my partner loves–her professed love of rhubarb came from strawberry, rhubarb pie (which I’m going to make after I get some tapioca that the filling in Smitten Kitchen’s filling needs–an apparently common ingredient I never use).

My Rhubarb Simple Syrup

I decided that besides the occasional dessert (which we really don’t need a lot of), I was going to try drinks.

Saturday, I made an excellent rhubarb simple syrup that I found on Epicurious.  It’s actually for a Rhubarb Collins (recipe is here).  I assumed since I love a good Tom Collins that I would love this.  Wrong.  I loved the rhubarb syrup,  it has the sweetness a simple syrup is supposed to have with the added rhubarb flavor (and none of the rhubarb tartness).  However, the gin overpowered the rhubarb taste in the Collins recipe–my second drink I used a 1:1 ratio for the rhubarb syrup and gin and skipped the lemon juice, still too ginny and not enough rhubarb flavor.  This weekend I’ll give it one more go, cut down the amount of gin itself and see how that goes.  If I have any success, I’ll post my Rhubarb Collins later.

Since I needed other drinks to use this syrup in, yesterday I thought homemade rhubarb lemonade would be a great refresher.  I already had the rhubarb part, so I just needed a fresh, single serving lemonade to test it out (luckily I bought a bag of lemons at Costco over the weekend, which is unusual for me).

After a google search and a peak at some of the results, I decided to try the recipe I found on The Live in Kitchen (recipe here).  The combination was perfect!  I still had the refreshment of lemonade on a hot day with the added taste of rhubarb.  My partner even had a sip and liked it–although next time she’ll want a little more of the rhubarb syrup in hers.


For the rhubarb simple syrup (make this well ahead of time, it will need to cool!):

 3/4 cup fresh or frozen rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

For the lemonade (don’t try to substitute your own favorite pre-made lemonade here unless you want an overly sweet drink) :

3 Tablespoons of rhubarb simple syrup

1 cup of water

3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 1/2 small lemons do the trick).

  1. To make the rhubarb syrup: combine the rhubarb simple syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until slightly thickened and bright pink in color, about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool then pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl (or canning jar, which is what I did).  Lightly press the rhubarb to release remaining juices.  “Discard” the rhubarb left in the sieve (compost it, use in another recipe, or eat it with ice cream–it’s actually very tender and yummy).   You can store the syrup in the fridge for a week.
  2. To make the lemonade:  in a large measuring cup (or large glass, if your serving glass is big enough to mix in), stir together the 3 lemonade ingredients (rhubarb syrup, water, and lemon juice).
  3. Serve in a glass with ice and enjoy!

The recipe can be doubled, tripled, or increased to whatever you need!  If your family or guests want a different sweetness and/or rhubarb-to-lemon ratio, make a big batch of the lemonade, minus the syrup, then stir in the rhubarb syrup to taste after each glass is poured.


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