This, my friends, is how you want to use that rhubarb you’ve been seeing at the market lately. It’s a syrup, sure, but I’d venture to guess it’s a syrup unlike any you’ve tasted. It has a lot going on, tartness from the rhubarb, tang from fresh lime juice, a backdrop of sweetness that’s anything but shy, and the wildcard finish – rosewater. The resulting syrup is strong, and lovely, and a kiss of it is just what a bowl of yogurt, or glass of soda water needs.
And it really couldn’t be simpler to make. Chop a few stalks of rhubarb, toss with sugar, then let it sit around until everything settles into a cold, sweet stew. Fire up your burner, and simmer until the rhubarb breaks down, then strain out the solids. You’re left with a vibrant rose-hued liquid. When you cook this down with a bit of fresh lime juice you end up with a fragrant, beautiful gem of a syrup. A finishing splash of rosewater is the final surprise – the je ne sais quoi factor.
4 large / 500 g / 1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped
2 cups / 400 g granulated sugar
2 cups / 240 ml water
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or lemon), or to taste
scant 2 teaspoons rosewater, or to taste
rose petals, optional
Combine the rhubarb and sugar in a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan. Stir well, and leave for 45 minutes or so (unheated), stirring now and then.
Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb starts to break down. Carefully strain into a bowl through a of cheesecloth-lined strainer. Transfer to a clean saucepan, stir in the lime juice, and bring to a simmer. Let simmer over medium heat for another 15 minutes or until the syrup has reduced quite a bit and thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Stir in the rosewater a bit at a time, until it is to your liking. Rose water can be quite an assertive flavor, so be judicious to start. It keeps, refrigerated, for a week or so.
Serve over yogurt, in soda water, or drizzled over waffles.
Makes one medium jar of syrup.
Prep time: 45 min – Cook time: 30 min