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Rhubarb Simple Syrup + Fika!

June 11, 2015

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“You’ve got a mighty fine rhubarb plant, ma’am”.

No, that’s not a pick up line, it’s a compliment from the old locksmith who came out after we moved in to our house last summer. In the ridiculous whirlwind that is buying a home* the raised garden beds in the backyard were pretty empty looking. By the time we got the keys and moved in, it was July and there were tomatoes growing wild everywhere, a few strawberries, a blueberry bush, tons of mint, and a massive rhubarb plant that managed to carry through the hot summer months.

rhubarb picking

We’ve had an unusually warm spring this year, here in Portland. My container garden is off to a great start, even though I didn’t plan until May. I’ve needed to pull some rhubarb to make way for the sunshine in the shared bed that it’s in. I grew up making rhubarb sauce, but my first experience with picking rhubarb was just about six years ago when I found some in my sister’s yard. I’ve been wanting to try a rhubarb simple syrup for a while. While Pinteresting, I came across the book Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break by Anna Brones (writer) and Johanna Kindvall (illustrator). I backed their Culinary Cyclist Kickstarter project a few years ago, so was happy to see they’d done another collaboration. And apparently they did a book event at Broder Nord here in Portland that I missed. Boo!

I love gin and fruit-based drinks (like Pink Gin Fizz) in the summer time. And apparently cordial is very similar to a simple syrup. It’s a concentrate that you add about 1:4 to water or sparkling water… or gin ;) Rhubarb Collins is another name for a gin and fizzy drink with rhubarb.

Here’s the rhubarb simple syrup I made, inspired by the Fika cookbook:

Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Sauce


  • rhubarb – 6-8 stalks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water

How to Make:

  1. If you have a rhubarb plant, just pull and twist off an entire stalk to pick. Discard the leafy part. If you bought rhubarb at the store, just wash and trim the ends.
  2. Slice the rhubarb in 1/2″- 1″ pieces.
  3. Add water and rhubarb to sauce pan on high heat until boiling. Reduce to simmer (still bubbling a bit) until the rhubarb pieces start to fall apart. You can poke pieces with a fork to see if it’s ready. Took about 10 minutes in my case.
  4. Using a very fine strainer (I used metal handheld) or cheesecloth, strain out the liquid/juice into another container. Keep both the juice and sludge! Set the saucy sludge to the side, we’ll come back to that.
  5. Rinse the sauce pan so there’s not rhubarb pieces in it, and put the rhubarb juice back in. Add sugar and return to medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  6. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate (if you need it right away, put the jar in an ice bath).
  7. Pour sludgy sauce back in the pan on medium-low and add sugar to taste, for a few minutes. Refrigerate.

The rhubarb sauce is great on toast, waffles, yogurt, vanilla ice cream or just with a big spoon. It looks a little weird since a lot of the moisture and color was taken out with juice, but still tastes great. Don’t waste it!

Rhubarb syrup

Rhubarb Collins Cocktail Recipe

  • 1 large ice cube
  • 1.5-2 ounces of rhubarb simple syrup
  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 2 ounces of sparkling water
  • squeeze of lime
  • mint (optional)

The rhubarb simple syrup can be used to make this Rhubarb Collins or just mixed with sparkling water poured over ice for a non-alcoholic version.


*(drive by house, see inside for 10 minutes, offer a ridiculous sum of money for a place you’ve only spent 10 minutes in, poke around the house during the inspection, wait a month, all yours! Now you can inspect your purchase in detail!)