This easy rhubarb syrup is an easy way to make a refreshing rhubarb drink such as German rhabarberschorle.
Although I am usually travelling this time of year I have tried to embrace all the new opportunities I have at home, especially with so much time.
And so most of my focus has been around exploring new fruits and vegetables that appear with the warmer weather.
But as someone who doesn’t love desserts, rhubarb was initially a challenge. Mostly because I didn’t really eat it growing up and almost every rhubarb recipe also requires strawberries.
But can we just celebrate rhubarb on its own? And not with a ton of sugar covering up its flavour?
I wasn’t sure. So I asked some friends for savoury rhubarb recipes or at least some that did not require making a rhubarb pie, tart, cake or crumble.
If you like all of these things that’s fantastic. It’s just not what I like.
But then my friend Terry, who is also a travel writer, asked me if I had heard about German rhabarberschorle.
She was so enthusiastic and said it was one of her favourite drinks in German. She described it as a rhubarb soda, which piqued my interest.
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But First…How to Cook With Rhubarb
Rhubarb is not a fruit, but actually a stem vegetable.
It was introduced to England during Queen Victoria’s coronation. It is naturally tart and usually combined with sugar or other fruit to combat its tartness.
However, we’re not just stuck with sweet English recipes. If you go farther north to Scandinavia, where the cuisine embraces tart and bitter, you can find great rhubarb recipes.
However it shouldn’t be eaten raw…even if you could eat it raw. And because of its oxalic acid it is not recommended for people with rheumatism or those prone to gout or kidney stones.
When in doubt, ask your doctor.
How to Shop for Rhubarb
Ripe rhubarb ranges from light green to deep red and is sometimes a spotted pink.
Although you’d think that bright pink or red rhubarb stalks indicate a more sweet plant but that’s not true.
Colour and sweetness or level of tartness is unfortunately not related.
In fact, the Victorian variety, which is often green is usually the least tart.
One of the biggest rhubarb debates is if it needs to be peeled. It really depends.
Technically, rhubarb does not need to be peeled but I think it depends on what you’re going to do with it.
You do not need to peel rhubarb for this simple syrup and likely wouldn’t need to for most cooked pies etc.
However, I also recently made spicy pickled rhubarb, which was a bit stringy and although it tastes great I wish I had peeled it.
So for this rhubarb drink simply wash and cut off both ends.
Now the Fun Part… German Rhabarberschorle
A cordial or a simple syrup is an easy way to preserve the fleeting tart flavour of rhubarb.
And….it’s an easy way to make a mocktail or a cocktail, including a rhubarb spritz.
After a bit of digging I discovered rhabarberschorle is a common summer drink in northern Germany and on almost every restaurant menu.
It’s so popular there are a number of commercial rhubarb sodas too.
But it’s also really easy to make a homemade rhubarb drink as it’s a rhubarb simple syrup mixed with sparkling water.
How to Make German Rhubarb Soda
A classic schorle recipe is usually 50% syrup and 50% sparkling water or club soda. However, I think it really depends on the sweetness of the rhubarb.
I do not like sweet drinks or sodas. So I say start with 25% rhubarb cordial and 50% club soda and then decide if you need more sweetness (cordial) or more soda.
Or….you could do what I have done and just add 25% vodka or gin for an adult version of this rhubarb drink.
Because let’s face it, the rhubarb mocktail version is good but the cocktail is better.
But it’s not all you can do with the rhubarb syrup!
How to Use Rhubarb Syrup
- For a mocktail make a rhubarb soda mixing the syrup with sparkling water
- Add it to wine for a rhubarb spritz or sparkling wine for a rhubarb mimosa or bellini
- Mix it with gin or vodka, it’s also great with rum as a mojito
- Simmer it a bit longer to make a thick syrup for vanilla ice cream or over yogurt and granola
- Drizzle over angel food cake or soak a pound cake
Rhubarb Syrup Recipe
So here’s the deal with making a rhubarb cordial. You can absolutely boil all three ingredients together for 20 minutes, strain it and chill.
But there’s another method, which I prefer because I don’t want to make a really sweet simple syrup.
In this case you first make rhubarb water, by boiling the rhubarb and water together, strain and then combine with sugar.
I like this because you can taste the rhubarb water and add sugar accordingly.
Pro Tip: You Need to Skim the Scum
Just like when you’re making soup stock, as you make this rhubarb syrup you need to skim the scum.
The scum is completely harmless but it doesn’t look great.
Rhubarb will never provide a completely clear simple syrup but it can provide a beautiful opaque version.
It’s not difficult to skim as rhubarb doesn’t release a lot of foam. Just take a large spoon and skim whatever foam rises to the top.
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- Add rhubarb and water to pan to ensure water covers all of it. If not, add enough water to cover. Boil for 20 minutes, removing foam as necessary.
- Strain liquid with fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Return water to pot and add sugar. Bring to boil for 5 minutes, stir ensuring sugar dissolves completely, removing foam as necessary
- Cool and store in fridge until ready to use.
4 cups of chopped rhubarb should be about a pound.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 146Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 1g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although BaconisMagic.ca attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.