This is a very refreshing cordial, made using the some of the rhubarb and the first of the year’s strawberry pickings from the allotment. Just dilute it with ice cold water or, better still, sparkling water: 1 part cordial to 4 or 5 parts water.
I have used star anise in the recipe to give a subtle aniseed kick, without detracting from the key flavours of the rhubarb and the strawberry, but it can be omitted.
The cordial will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge in sterilised bottles but you can add citric acid to prolong its life, although in my experience the cordial goes quite quickly!
An easy drink
This is such a simple drink to make, with very little to actually do. You do need to strain the mixture overnight, but that is not a hardship!
You can strain the mixture overnight in a clean tea towel if you don’t have muslin, but don’t be tempted to squeeze the juice through it or else the cordial will go cloudy.
I sometimes omit the strawberries and go just for rhubarb cordial but you can make any one of so many combinations, replacing the rhubarb and strawberries with about 2kg of whichever fruit you want.
The cordial works brilliantly using frozen fruit, too, so if you pick your own or grow fruit, pop a load in the freezer for making a batch of cordial at a later stage.
Strawberry and mint cordial is a favourite of mine: follow the method below but use a total of 2kg strawberries instead of rhubarb, with a handful of roughly torn mint leaves.
Rhubarb and ginger cordial: a great flavour combination, the slight heat from the ginger and the sharpness of the rhubarb is stunning. I tend to use about 2kg of rhubarb and about 4 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated. You can increase the ginger if you want more heat.
I often use my cordials to make very quick and incredibly refreshing sorbets, although for more traditional sorbets (mango, pineapple etc…) I prefer the puréed and sieved fruit in there, too, for that intense fruit hit that you can get.
For a sorbet using cordial, dilute one part cordial with about one part water and some liquid glucose. I use about a tablespoon of liquid glucose per litre of mixture, warming it with a little of the mixture so it blends in smoothly. The liquid glucose gives a nice texture without the sorbet being too solid. Churn in an ice cream maker until you get the right level of frozen texture.
Recipe: rhubarb & strawberry cordial (makes about 2 litres undiluted cordial)
- 1.5kg rhubarb, roughly chopped
- 500g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
- 500ml water
- juice and grated zest of two unwaxed lemons
- 2 whole star anise, optional
- about 1kg granulated sugar
(1) Put the rhubarb, strawberries, water, lemon zest and star anise into a pan. Heat gently until it comes to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft. Squish the rhubarb and the strawberry together quite a bit so the juices are fully mixed.
(2) Strain the mixture overnight into a bowl through muslin or a tea towel: it is easiest placing a large colander over a mixing bowl, lining the colander with the muslin and pouring the fruit mixture onto the muslin before leaving overnight for the juice to drip through.
(3) The next day, pour the strained liquid into a pan and add the lemon juice and most of the sugar – use about 700g sugar per litre of juice that has been collected. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, taste and add more sugar if necessary: it should be very sweet (but this will of course be diluted!). Pour into sterilised bottles* and refrigerate.
* to sterilise the bottles, wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse them and then place in an oven pre-heated to 100C for about 10 minutes