Rhubarb is everywhere in Spring and Summer. For a long time, I did not like its sharp, sour taste, but it has very much grown on me lately. Maybe because of my husband’s adoration of the vegetable, and his gentle prompting (ok, begging) that I use it more in my cooking. To make him happy, I obliged, and I have to say that even though it took a while, I now really love it.
Alongside rhubarb, the bounty of fresh picked strawberries has begun, as well. This year’s harvest promises to be the most beautiful ever. I know, I say that every year. But how is it possible that, every single year, we are gifted these gorgeous, glistening red fruits? Freshly picked, in-season strawberries fill me with a real sense of wonder.
In the kitchen, it is well known that strawberries and rhubarb are a natural combination, which is why they are so often found together in recipes. When you achieve perfection in pairing, why mess it up? It’s a rare and beautiful thing. I find that the combination works exceedingly well as a syrup. A few tablespoons of it in a glass of icy sparkling water makes for a beautiful and very festive drink in the heat of summer. No doubt that it would also taste divine as a topping for pancakes or waffles on a weekend morning.
Is syrup good for us? Nooo. It’s sugar, practically pure. I wish I could spin this and tell you that it’s healthy for more than a very occasional treat. But it’s simply not. However, on those (hopefully) rare occasions when we really want something sweet and refreshing, this syrup certainly fits the bill. At least it is homemade, with clean ingredients, unrefined sweeteners and in-season produce. I’ve seen much worse on the unhealthy scale. There, feel better?
Sometimes, at the farmers’ market, I will not only find red rhubarb, but also green rhubarb or rhubarb that is red at the tip and then fades to green. All are similar in taste, but green rhubarb is much less stringy, which makes it more fun to work with. For this recipe, I used both red, green and the in-between variety. Feel free to use whatever rhubarb you can find.
Important note about strawberries: because they are one of the most pesticide-sprayed crops, at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list (i.e. part of the most pesticide-contaminated produce), strawberries should always be bought organic. No joke, people. If you don’t believe me, see this article here.
Love and health!
- 1/2 lb rhubarb stalks (red or green or combination), chopped small
- 1/2 lb strawberries, chopped small
- 1 cup honey or organic cane sugar
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 cup water
- Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors are well blended in, about 20 minutes.
- Pour into a fine mesh sieve set over another saucepan. Using the back of a spoon, stir and push the liquid out.
- Bring to a boil again, and simmer until much thicker and reduced by at least half.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Store in a mason jar, refrigerated, for 5-7 days.
- Recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.
- Don't throw out the leftover pulp - it makes a beautifully sweet and tangy compote!