How to Make Rhubarb Syrup, and Change Your Life


“The Sodastream will, honest to god, absolutely no exaggeration whatsoever, change your life,” said Duncan, evangelically. And so we set out to Bed Bath & Beyond to purchase one and install it in the highly valuable limited real estate of the kitchen counter.

“Unlimited fizzy water!” Jon sighed happily, filling up bottles with a nails-down-a-chalkboard hiss, screech, and wail. “This is the life.” And for a few weeks, it was. Until we overreached. Flew, Icarus-like, too close to the sun, and experimented with soda flavors. These were pretty dreadful.

It soon became clear that if we wanted half-decent syrups, and didn’t want to bankrupt ourselves on artisanal whatnots, the best plan would be making them ourselves.

And so, determined to preserve the last few weeks of rhubarb season, I brought as many stems as I could scrounge up at the supermarket home to poach. Here’s how it works:

  • You put a pound and a half of washed chopped rhubarb into a pan with strips of zest from 1 orange, a cup of juice from that orange (topped up with water, if necessary), 3/4 cup of sugar, and a vanilla pod, if you have one about.
  • You let this simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until the fruit is very soft. Let it cool.
  • Strain it into a jug, through a fine sieve. Poke it with the back of a spoon, and be patient — if you can leave it to drip overnight, do that.
  • Save the pulp to stir into yogurt or whipped cream. And keep the syrup to turn into soda (2 tbsp syrup, glass of sparkling water or soda and ice) or to add to mojitos or gin and sodas. Got mint? Tear some in. Drink spring. Change your life.