How about some rhubarb lemonade?

Hot summer days and rhubarb always remind me of time spent in my Grandma’s garden. If you went over to her house during rhubarb season, she would inevitably offer you rhubarb lemonade. It would always hit the spot, especially if you had cycled over. If you asked her how she made it, the recipe would always be given in general terms. No measurements given. It was the same with her absolutely yummy welsh cakes. The recipe of which has gone to the grave with her. I’m still trying to perfect that one.

Back to the rhubarb lemonade. I have worked on this one over the years and with my mother’s help, I have a recipe. Saying that, I have taken the recipe a little further. I’ll do my version , and add a note where Grandma’s recipe cuts out a few stages.

Rhubarb juice

1 lb (450g) rhubarb, washed and cut in 1″ cubes
1/2 lbs (225g) caster sugar
2 pints (4 cups) of water

1. Put the rhubarb and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil.
2. Keep covered and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is falling apart.
3. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Pour into a jug or bowl and cover. Leave to cool.
5. When cool, extract the juice using a ladle. I take about 2/3rds of the juice, as I don’t want to dry out the remaining rhubarb. I use for the rhubarb for puddings. Take as much of the juice as you want. If some of the rhubarb strands escapes into the juice, don’t worry. It will  prove that it was made from real rhubarb. I push the ladle gently into the middle of the rhubarb and let the juice seep over the ladle sides, until I have a full ladle, but you could strain it through muslin to catch the bits instead. The remaining rhubarb can be chilled for another dish, such as rhubarb and custard.

6. Cover the rhubarb juice and chill in the fridge.

This is the point where my recipe deviates from Grandma’s. Once chilled, she half filled a glass with rhubarb juice and then topped it up with shop bought lemonade. Any sediment fizzed to the top and made a frothy fringe around the edge of the drinks’ surface. Time to sit back and enjoy. It makes enough for about 8 medium sized glasses. I love this version, but I couldn’t help experimenting.

I’ve been working on using homemade traditional lemonade, instead of the fizzy version. There are many trad. lemonade recipes, but this is the one that works for me.

Traditional Lemonade

While you are waiting for the rhubarb to chill at step 4, start making the lemonade.

4 unwaxed lemons
4 oz (100g) caster sugar

1. Zest the lemons, leaving as much of the white pith on the lemon as possible. I’ve tried so many fancy lemon zesters, but it ends up that an ordinary vegetable peeler works best for me.
2. Squeeze the juice from the lemons.
3. Put the lemon juice, zest and sugar in a heat proof jug.
4. Pour 1 pint (600ml) of boiling water into the jug and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
5. Take a deep breathe. How good is that lemon.
6. Cover the jug and then leave to cool.
7. Once it is cool, strain it into another container. You can use muslin, but I like to use an ordinary sieve, so that some of the lemon bits get through. The remaining lemon zest is not needed, so either compost it or put it aside for another use.
8. Add 3/4 pint (400ml) of chilled water to the filtered juice to dilute it. Add sugar if you like it sweeter. Chill until required.

You now have a jug of chilled rhubarb juice and a jug of chilled traditional lemonade. Last stage is to select the perfect glass. Half fill it with rhubarb juice and top it up with traditional lemonade. Leave enough room for lemon slices, ice cubes, borage flowers, paper umbrellas or two…..whatever will finish your creation off with perfection!

Sit back and enjoy. Here’s to you, Grandma. Happy summer, everyone.

I cannot tell you how long it lasts, because it is always gone within a couple of days. If I’ve missed anything out or you have a question about the recipe, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it. Thank you for getting to the end of this post. I’ll try and remember to tell you about Grandma’s water otter one day.

10 thoughts on “How about some rhubarb lemonade?

  • Friday 25 June, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    yummmm…looks delicious! especially with those borage blossoms floating on top! 🙂

    • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 12:27 am

      Thanks. It tastes delicious, as well.

  • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I love the borage flowers floating in the lemonade. I’m afraid I have to admit that i’m not a rhubarb fan, I have tried to like it, but just can’t seem to get the tastebuds to agree. It’s a very pretty pink color.


    • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 9:13 am

      My husband doesn’t like rhubarb either. His is the glass of lemonade. That’s part of the reason, I keep the lemonade and the rhubarb juices separate, unlike other recipes which cook them all together. Oh well, more rhubarb for the rest of us!

  • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 7:16 am

    yum yum….I love the gorgeous pictures you took too. I love rhubarb, and the little borage flowers are so pretty. I come here a bit, to check out your beautiful blog but cant always leave a comment because the “image click” thingy below doesnt work on an iphone….

    • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Thanks for letting me know about the image click. I’ll look for an alternative. Rhubarb is yummy.

      I’ve changed it. Hopefully it works better.

  • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Sounds just the job for a hot day like today.

    P.S. the jam was a great success, so easy, I can’t believe I haven’t tried to make it before. Thanks for the very clear instructions. What do you sugest for my next attempt? Glad you are feeling better.

    • Saturday 26 June, 2010 at 1:00 pm

      I’m really pleased your jam worked out so well. As for the next one, I’d go for whatever is in season and something you like. The process is much the same with other fruit, but leaves out that 15 minutes for the strawberries to decide which way they want to go. I’m doing a batch of blackcurrant jelly this weekend. There are so many combinations to do as well, depending on what is available. I’ll add a link to my favourite jam making book and my blackcurrant jelly recipe this weekend.

      Don’t forget to save all your jam jars from now on! One year I had to go out and buy more.

  • Monday 28 June, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I love making Rhubarb cordial – from a recipe my Swedish best friends mother gave me- like your Granny, I top up with Shhhhhop bought lemonade. Think I may have to try your way too now! 😀

    • Monday 28 June, 2010 at 11:18 pm

      The two flavours work well together and are more balanced. It becomes rhubarb and lemon, rather than just fizzy rhubarb. Its worth trying, just to see the difference.

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