Updated: Mar 28, 2020
Since the utterly crazy Coronavirus pandemic hit us here in the UK, my lovely friend Charley, a green grocer, has started delivering us boxes of fruit & veg each week. The smell from these boxes is amazing and the size and quality of the produce is beyond anything the big supermarkets have to offer. I’m ashamed to say that although I regularly stopped at the local farm shop, Bonners Barn, for bits and pieces (and for all the fruit in or on my cakes) I probably didn't use local suppliers as much as I really could have done and now more than ever the notion of #shoplocal is so important. To those of us running a small business, every sale no matter the size, means so much more.
Anyway, as important as that all is, we’re actually all here for Rhubarb Gin. So my veg box this week contained some gorgeous stems of rhubarb and my immediate thought was that the kids would love a rhubarb crumble and custard. My second thought was that I couldn’t be bothered at the time to prepare them, and the kids have got a whole other box full of fruit anyway while I on the other hand, have got a bottle of Gin which had been given to me by the in laws a few months ago and it just so happens Rhubarb Gin is a favourite of mine and Charley’s. Sorry kids, Mummy wins and I don’t feel guilty about it either. Plus I’m sure there’s some science in this somewhere (not forgetting home economics) so that’s a big tick in the home schooling box for today. On to the recipe, I’ve googled lots of recipes with different methods and quantities and to be honest I just went with what ingredients I have available and what I thought would work:
INGREDIENTS 700g Rhubarb Stems (the pinker the better)
160g Caster Sugar
1 Bottle of Gin (any ordinary gin will do this one is 700ml/70cl but if you've got a larger bottle just throw in some more rhubarb and a bit more sugar)
I imagine an inch or two of fresh ginger in the mix would be lovely but I don’t have any so I’m not.
I read in a few recipes that a couple of strawberries in the mix will help with the beautiful pink hue that the gin will gain while the mix is steeping but as I don’t have any right now I won’t be adding any but I might throw some in later. I also read a few different methods. Some threw everything in a jar at once and it was ready in 3 days, some stewed the sugar and rhubarb then mixed the resulting syrup 50/50 with gin and some steeped the rhubarb in the gin for 4 weeks. Being a chef it’s always in me to want to get as much flavour from ingredients as I can and really showcase the star of the dish (or drink in this case) for that reason I’ve gone the latter method as I think the flavour will be much more intense and worth the wait.
So, on to the method and it’s very easy, the hardest part is going to be waiting 4 weeks and not sneaking a tipple in the mean time.
Wash the rhubarb and remove any leaves and the base of the stem, then cut into approximately 4cm chunks
Put the rhubarb and sugar into a large sterile jar or bottle and give it a shake to mix. (I used an old demijohn washed in very hot soapy water, rinsed and put in the oven at 160ºC for about 15-20 minutes let it cool completely before adding the ingredients)
Cover and leave for approximately 24hrs for the sugar to draw out the moisture and that distinctive rhubarb flavour. (This is the stage I’m currently at)
After 24hrs add your bottle of gin and give it a good stir or swirl around to mix everything. Now you just need to put the lid on and wait for 4 weeks. (I'd probably give it another stir in a day or two to make sure the sugar has all dissolved).
At the end of the 4 weeks you can strain the gin through a fine sieve or muslin and pour it into a sterile bottle.
As I’ve never made my own before, I‘ll keep you all posted on how this turns out and hopefully it’ll be ready for the end of lock down so we can have a little celebratory drink, which I’ll need after 4 weeks with 4 kids haha
Update (28/03/20) I know I said to add the Gin after 24hrs in the recipe but I was busy and didn't get around to it so I left mine 48hrs which is absolutely fine and some of the many recipes I had trawled through did say 48hrs.
Before I added the gin I thought I'd snap a photo so you can see the amount of liquid already in the jar from the sugar and the moisture it had drawn out of the rhubarb. You can see the beginnings of the lovely pink blush its turning from the natural vibrant colour of the rhubarb stems.
So the gin is now in, (went in late last night) it's had a good swirl around and it's all sealed up ready to steep for 4 weeks. The picture shows the pink syrup very diluted but already this morning the Gin has stripped more of the pink out of the rhubarb.
I've sealed it up and put it into a cupboard out of the light as I don't want to lose any of the beautiful pink that the liquid takes on. (I'll take a peek after a week and I may add some more rhubarb but keep you all posted)
If anyone is giving this a go then please feel free to share your results in the comments below.