Get the best out of your rhubarb
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
Rhubarb is super common here in Sweden. You can easily spot a rhubarb plant in most Swedish gardens, and it is definitely one of the symbols of Swedish summer, yet it's nothing I am used to from my childhood. In fact, I can’t even recall having tasted it any time before moving to Sweden..
Rhubarb is stunning to look at, especially in the beginning of the season when it's a wonderful red color. The vegetable per se is not the sweetest one though, so it does require a good amount of sugar. Sweeter and softer in the beginning of the season, it generally turns a bit harder and less sweet towards the end of the season, which also causes the same recipe to taste slightly different depending on when you bake it.
I must say that my first encounter with a rhubarb pie was not the most successful one, which has left me skeptical to this vegetable. It has taken me 13 years in Sweden to finally understand that the problem with that first pie I was served years ago was not the actual vegetable in it.
Last summer was the turning point for me. After 12 years trying my best to avoid rhubarb I was served rhubarb lemonade by my friend Johanna, and that's when everything changed. Mind you, I am not a lemonade person. Fruit lemonade is extremely popular here, sold in concentrated form to be diluted with water, but that has never been anything for me. Rhubarb though somehow broke the chain.
As I started to receive rhubarb delivery from friends and family and started looking online for inspiration, I stumbled on the recipe for rhubarb syrup by @jennysrumochspis and got so curious to try. This is actually the very first thing I made with the rhubarb I got, and I am so happy I did. The vanilla and lime are a perfect add to the rhubarb and create this wonderful syrup which is great on pancakes, ice cream, and especially drinks. The original recipe is in Swedish, so here it comes in English, with a slight adjustment from my side.
The recipe gives about 6 dl of syrup. If your rhubarb is not particularly red but you want that red color, feel free to add a few drops of red food coloring in the end. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
750 gr rhubarb
1 vanilla bean
1 lime (juice plus zest)
600 gr caster sugar
Clean the rhubarb, cut it in small pieces (about 1-2 cm long depending on how thick it is). Split the vanilla bean down its length using a knife.
Combine all ingredients in a medium size saucepan, then cook them on the stove until all sugar has melted and the liquid starts boiling. Once it boils, lower the heat and let it cook for about 10 minutes. The syrup will thicken as it cools down, but if you find it too liquid at this point let it cook a few more minutes.
Strain the mixture squeezing a bit with a spoon so that all juice comes out, then pour in a clean glass bottle. Let it cool down, then store it in the fridge.