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from my table: rhubarb + rosewater syrup

May 12, 2012

When the first pink-tipped stalks of rhubarb show up at the farmer’s market, some little light pings off in my  brain. This little light is persistent, stubborn, and a little crazy. It whispers, prods, and sometimes screams:

“MUST PUT RHUBARB IN EVERYTHING! EVERYTHINGGGGGG!”

(Told you it was a little crazy.)

Simply put, rhubarb is probably my favorite summer fruit to cook and bake with. (See past recipes for this and this; oh yes, and this was delicious, too.) I go weak in the knees at the idea of cobblers, muffins, pies, jams, and cakes, shot through with tender pieces of this gorgeous and (I think) underrated fruit. I just picked up my first rhubarb six days ago and already, I’ve done a compote, a crumble, a batch of muffins, and one pristine jar of this beautiful Rhubarb & Rosewater Syrup.

I came across this recipe on 101 Cookbooks and immediately felt that familiar tingle in my fingers, itching to get in the kitchen and go bonkers. Luckily, I was heading to the Farmer’s Market this very same day to pick up some rhubarb (mostly because it was there and I could; I’m a rhubarb hoarder) and I knew its destiny was now signed, sealed, delivered, to end up as this gorgeous coral-colored syrup. My sisters and I have decided to do a sparkly beverage for our Mother’s Day feast and I think this will be the perfect touch. Elegant and earthy at the same time, plus impossibly beautiful (rather like my own mother; love you, Mom!).

So I opened the screen door in the kitchen, snapped on some Beach Boys, and enjoyed the warm sun and breeze on my bare feet as I got this syrup rolling. As it was, the syrup offers a fair bit of down-time during its preparation and cooking, so I made myself some lunch (and maaaybe a mid-day gin and tonic, like you do) and enjoyed a few chapters of a new book on the porch.

It’s an intense syrup, both in flavor and color. The rosewater is a beautiful, subtle touch; it’s actually one of my favorite flavors to use with rhubarb. Its soft floral notes pair well with the bright tartness of rhubarb and the added lime juice in this syrup sharpens the whole flavor profile.

Serve in club soda, over yogurt, or add to champagne or prosecco for a special treat.

Rhubarb & Rosewater Syrup
From 101 Cookbooks

1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
scant 2 teaspoons rosewater, or to taste

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 fine mesh 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.

  

Makes approximately one medium jar

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