Holy cannoli, it is hot outside. (And definitely not a good time for cannoli-making.) The calendar’s first day of summer blasted in with 40-degree weather. Personally, I start wilting at around 29C; once we’re up past 32 or 33, I just kind of melt.
Others, it seems, handle the heat better than I do.
Happily, my neighbour had left me an early-morning surprise on my porch (I love our neighbours!) of her own rhubarb. Given the sweltering heat, my first thought was of rhubarb’s crisp, acidic flavour, and how refreshing it would be as a sort of spritzer type drink. I did briefly consider making myself more sweet-tart stewed rhubarb… but as the day’s temperature kept climbing, the cooling drink idea definitely won over.
Rhubarb syrup it was, then!
I love the girly pink colour of the syrup: such a surprise from the aloof, pale green stalks they start out as. I couldn’t just brew up a straight rhubarb syrup (do you even know me?) although I didn’t want to put so much other stuff in there that the rhubarb would be overshadowed. The end result of this experiment is a slightly tinglier, super-refreshing syrup. I’ve dubbed it my Rhubarb Mojito Syrup, although I have not yet tried making a mojito with it. Yet. Anyway, if you’re curious…
1 to 1 1/2 lbs rhubarb, trimmed, and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 scant cup sugar (maybe more like a generous 3/4 cup)
1 loose handful of mint leaves *
About 1 inch of ginger, sliced
1 lime’s worth of juice
1 cup or so of water (optional)
Muddle about a third of the sugar with the mint leaves. Keep mashing until there are no chunks of leaves (or strain those out). I wanted the mint flavour to seep in with the rhubarb without overwhelming it. If you’re not as averse to the clean-up as I am, you could also do this part in the food processor. Stir minty sugar and remaining sugar into the rhubarb. Let it sit for about an hour in the fridge.
Pour rhubarb, sugar and liquid into a pot. Add ginger slices and lime juice, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Do taste to adjust for sugar and lime. At this point, you can add water to try to coax extra flavour out of the bits, but it will mean that you’ll be about it longer boiling that water back off again. Eventually you want a slightly thickened syrup, which you can then strain into jars of your choice. Stir a little into some club soda (or rum and soda) and voila!
* Do you remember last year’s rogue mint? It’s back. En masse. I foresee a lot of mint-based cocktails going on this summer.
Lest you think that’s it’s been all idyllic preserving and kitty-centric construction around here, I should point out that some members of the household have been occupying themselves in decidedly naughtier ways of late.
Don’t let the confident tongue-loll fool you. He knows he did wrong.
No rhubarb mojitos for this culprit!