. . . and other adventures with rhubarb juice
yeah, that's chococat
I love rhubarb. Not just in pies, but in all manner of foods. After my great success with rhubarb salsa, I was inspired to think about canning it so I could eat more of it and more often. I was looking around for recipes on canning rhubarb and kept coming across recipes for canning the juice, especially in old-timey canning and recipe books. Most of these books said that while rhubarb is easy to can, it just isn't worth it. If you want to keep it, you should freeze it, said the most modern. I don't have the freezer space, but by then I was totally distracted by this idea of rhubarb juice.
What I love about rhubarb is the sour tartness. And since it is summer, tequila is on the brain. (I am particularly loving my Don Julio Anejo. It wasn't that expensive, but it wasn't cheap either. Good tequila is worth it, in my opinion.) Voila, rhubarb margaritas.
The basic premise is that you chop it up, boil it for a bit, then strain it. One recipe suggested letting it steep for a while, which I did. I have a chinois, which helps a lot (though mine isn't as pricey as the linked one). I also used a lot more water than most recipes out there, mostly for lack of actually reading the other recipes. I thought the rhubarb should be covered in water, so that's what I did.
I used: 3 lb of rhubarb, 8 tbl honey, and 8 cups water. After bringing it to a boil, I turned the heat way down and let it simmer for ten minutes. Then I turned the heat off and let it steep for 2 hours. The rhubarb totally broke down into a pulpy mass. I strained it through my chinois, mashing on the rhubarb to make it release the juice. I got 2 quarts and 16 oz out of the whole things, and the resulting rhubarb mush was only about a cup and a half's worth. Fun how that works.
For my margarita, I used good tequila, triple sec, rhubarb juice and half a lime. Absolutely wonderful. I had been worried that the tequila and lime would overpower the rhubarb, but not so. The rhubarb fit right in.
Some recipes mentioned food coloring to make it pinker. I'm ok with the peachy color, but if you wanted pink you could mash a strawberry through the chinois. Strawberries aren't in season yet here, and I don't buy strawberries at the supermarket except in extreme emergencies. But I think that would make it very pink.
This version came out very very sour. Most recipes call for a lot of sugar, but I want the sour, and I knew I could add more sugar later if needed. But now that it is sour, it is inspiring me to mix it up with all sorts of other fun things.
My next fun thing will be to mix it with some of that Choya Umeshu I got at the Red Ginger wine tasting. The plum liquor is super sweet and viscous, while the rhubarb is sour and thin, more refreshing. And then perhaps I'll break open a bottle of my precious Toad Hollow Risque, which is a sparkling wine from California, with a bit of sweetness. I suppose any sweet-ish sparkling wine will do, although if you can find it, Toad Hollow's is the greatest. On second thought, no, don't try to find it. It is terrible, you wouldn't like it. I will make the great sacrifice and drink it all.
All of these drinks speak of that perfect spring-time. When the sun is shining and warm, when the heat of summer is still a myth from last year, when the days are already long and everything is freshly green. It holds a certain decadence of fine cocktails mixed with the down-hominess of a beverage that comes out of your neighbor's back yard. As long as the rhubarb holds, through late June here in NH, I will be making rhubarb juice.