Monday, August 23, 2010

Rhubarb juice? Yes, I kid you not.

Dear patriots of the press and internets,

"Yes, I know it's amazing.  You don't have to tell me twice!"

This is what I commonly find myself saying after serving guests a glass of sparkling, refreshing Sunshine Rhubarb juice.  Rhubarb was never a particular favorite of mine, but its appeal blossomed significantly when I found I could obtain virtually unlimited quantities, for free, from my mom-in-law Joan!

The following recipe is gleaned from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It is absolutely delicious and refreshing!!!!

Sunshine Rhubarb Juice Concentrate

Makes about four pint (500mL) jars
12 cups sliced rhubarb (approx. 1-inch chunks)
4 cups water
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1-1/2 cups white sugar

1. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, lemon zest and orange zest.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat, cover and boil gently until rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes (I know that stirring rhubarb while it cooks makes it tough, but don't worry about that here; the rhubarb will be strained and the toughened fibers discarded).  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and orange juice.
2. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl.  Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.  (I will here privately confess to you that I always squeeze and mash the jelly bag from time to time.  I don't care if my juice is clear - I like it foggy and tasty!)

3. Meanwhile, prepare canner jars and lids.
4. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb juice and sugar.  Heat to 190F (88C) over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Do not boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
5. Ladle hot concentrate into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) headspace.  Lid.
6. Process for ten minutes.  Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, remove jars.

Variation: For a basic rhubarb juice concentrate, omit the lemon and orange zest and juice, and reduce the sugar to 1 cup.  I have not tried this variation; I imagine you would want to use only slim, tart stalks for this option.  Of course, you can add more or less of whatever lemon, orange, etc. that you like.

To serve the rhubarb juice (best part!):  Mix to your taste with lemonade, lemon-lime soda, ginger-ale, sparkling water or club soda, cold water, etc.  If you have a home soda maker, this is the perfect syrup for your drinks.  The recipe suggests one part concentrate to one part water etc., but sometimes I use far less concentrate - depending on what I am adding it to.

A toast to summer!

Mrs H
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