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Friday 18 May 2012

Sluttishly Sweet: Rhubarb and Vanilla Syrup

My monster of a rhubarb plant is still intent on taking over my tiny garden so I've been hacking away at it again. Syrups are a great way of preserving the flavour of a fruit and it means that you don't end up with a freezer full of chopped rhubarb in place of those way more important things like gin and ice.
I make quite a big batch of rhubarb syrup then split it up and add various other flavours like rosewater, orange blossom, coconut or lavender. You can have a batch ready in about an hour and use it in anything from cocktails to sorbets, cakes or just as a refreshing long drink with sparkling water and ice. Rhubarb varies in flavour depending on the variety and time of year, the one that I grow is really tart so I use quite a bit of sugar. This recipe makes about 2 litres of syrup so you could just half the quantities for a smaller batch. I get through it at quite a rate and it will keep for at least a couple of weeks in your fridge. You can add a teaspoon of citric acid to preserve it for up to a month if you wish.

You'll need:
  • 2kg chopped rhubarb
  • 300ml water
  • 600g sugar
  • peeled zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract (or substitute some sugar for vanilla sugar)
Make it!
  1. Put your chopped rhubarb, water and sugar and lemon zest into a big pot on a medium heat until the rhubarb breaks down completely. Taste and add more sugar if it is too tart then add your vanilla extract.
  2. Now you need to strain the mixture. A jelly bag and bowl is ideal. I don't have one so I line a colander with a big square of muslin (or clean pillowcase) and set it over a big bowl. I then pour the mix in, tie up the corners of the bag and hang it from a hook above the bowl so the syrup drains through leaving the rhubarb pulp behind. Try to let it drain without squeezing it, that way you get a nice clear syrup. You can use the leftover pulp in cakes, ice creams and pies but I just tend to eat it straight away with a drizzle of cream as a special treat for being so ace and making my own syrup!
  3. Once you have your beautiful syrup you can either pour it straight away into sterilised bottles or add a few teaspoons of rosewater or orange blossom water for a really floral syrup.


  1. Rhubarb is absolutely one of my favourite fruits. Love it.

  2. It is wonderful syrup. i have tried it and found beneficial.

  3. Definitely making this! At home we always grow bumper crops of rhubarb and get sick of it in crumbles. I'm slightly obsessed with syrups since I tried an amazing strawberry one in Denmark.

  4. The Rhubarb and Rosewater version is also amazing, makes a cracking cake filling for cardamon cake with loads of rhubarb and rose icing!

  5. I made this at the weekend! It goes RIDICULOUSLY well with Malibu.

    1. Heh. I don't think I've drunk Malibu in YEARS.

    2. Well, if I'm honest, we'd run out of gin and vodka and the bottle of Malibu had been lurking in the back of the cupboard for quite sometime, so the discovery was a happy accident!


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