My grandma called this stuff, "rhubarb nectar" and used it in a bunch of different applications. You can use it undiluted and pour it into ice cube trays, freeze and use the cubes in lemonade or my grandfather liked it in iced tea. I liked it in ginger ale myself.
You can also dilute the mix with water, ginger ale, lemonade or soda water to make different drinks. Grandma even made a sweet and tangy salad dressing with this stuff once and threw it into a coleslaw type of application. It was amazing. Wish I had that recipe too *laugh*.
I found a recipe very similar to this one in the Ball Book of Home Preserving while I was flipping through it. Their recipe, called "Sunshine Rhubarb Juice Concentrate" calls for fresh lemons, where my grandma's used bottled lemon juice. Grandma's also called for bottled orange juice, but all I had was a fresh orange, so my recipe this time ended up being kind of a Frankenstein mix of the two recipes. If you have neither lemon or orange juice, though, don't worry as I'll post just the tried and true straight recipe at the end.
Rhubarb Nectar (Rhubarb Concentrate)
- 12 cups diced rhubarb
- 4 cups water
- 2 TBS orange juice (or the zest and juice of 1 orange)
- 2 TBS lemon juice (or the zest and juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
In a large stainless steel (you NEED non reactive for this recipe as it is acidic!) saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, lemon zest and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for about 10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender (falling apart) and has let out all of it's red coloring (it makes a pretty pink colored liquid). Remove from heat and stir in lemon and orange juice.To Reconstitute: Mix one part concentrate with one part water, tonic water, soda water, ginger ale or lemonade. Adjust concentrate to taste.
Transfer to a jelly bag or strainer lined with several layers of cheese cloth set over a deep bowl and let drip for at least 2 hours (okay, this is where I never have this type of patience. I don't care if I get a clear liquid, so I let the mixture cool for a bit on the stovetop...about 1/2 an hour...and then I put the mixture through a strainer lined with a very clean lint free dish towel, let whatever liquid will drip through drip through and then I grab the towel with all of the "rhubarb guts" in it and squeeze the mixture over the catch bowl until all I have left is pretty dry pulp. It's a lot faster and tastes just as good...just leads to a cloudy mixture).
Meanwhile prepare canner jars and lids by standard sanitizing practices put forth by our friendly FDA (or your local governmental agency).
In a clean large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb juice and sugar. Heat to 190 degrees Fahrenheit (grandma's recipe called for "just below the boiling point" I like the temperature degrees set forth by Ball a lot better) over medium high heat. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
Ladle hot concentrate into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met and increase to finger-tip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid and wait another 5 minutes. Remove jars, cool and store (be sure to check seals to make sure they are sealed correctly).
Variation: For a basic rhubarb concentrate, omit the lemon and orange zest and juice and reduce sugar to 1 cup.
Makes about 4 pint jars (500 ml)