Rhubarb, rhubarb

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - CONTENTS - Susan Jane White

This is good enough to strad­dle. Sweet, suc­cu­lent spoon­fuls of rhubarb hap­pily col­laps­ing from the heat of the oven, and ca­vort­ing with a sticky or­ange and star anise nec­tar. I serve it with buck­wheat cream, which prob­a­bly sounds like tak­ing it too far, so just swap it out for cold clouds of Greek yo­ghurt. Crim­i­nally tasty.

There are not enough days in the year that I can fill with rhubarb. It’s one of the few plants on Ir­ish soil that re­mains sea­sonal — many are im­ported all year round, which sig­nif­i­cantly de­tracts from their ex­cite­ment. But not rhubarb. It’s a May-to-Au­gust orgy, so get your fill.

I make a kick­ass rhubarb cor­dial to go with gin for long and lazy sum­mer evenings. I’ve found two ex­cep­tional new gins on the Ir­ish mar­ket, both hand-crafted with lo­cal botan­i­cals: Bertha’s Re­venge from Co Cork, and ShortCross from North­ern Ire­land. I’ve con­vinced my liver that the botan­i­cals are likely medic­i­nal in na­ture. And so long as I sip it in the sun, I’ll be get­ting a healthy dose of vi­ta­min D3 as well. Right? Score.

Rhubarb cor­dial goes so well with sparkling water and freshly grated gin­ger, too. Here’s what to do. Roughly chop 1kg (2 ¼ lbs) of fresh, pink rhubarb and sim­mer it with 300ml (10floz) of water for 15 min­utes. Strain it through a sieve to catch the rhubarb juice — re­frig­er­ate the cooked flesh from the sieve, as you won’t need it for the cor­dial.

Add 250g (9oz) of co­conut su­gar or ra­padura su­gar to the col­lected rhubarb juice and boil it for 10 min­utes un­til it’s syrupy. Add a squeeze of cit­rus to lift the cor­dial while it’s cool­ing.

Once chilled, this rhubarb cor­dial can be stored for up to eight weeks, pro­vided no­body knows about it.

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