Rhubarb is one of the first plants to push it’s way through the garden soil in early spring. While the stalks are young and tender, they’re often used in preserving and to create delicious desserts. But as the summer advances, stalks become tough and stringy, making them less desirable for use in the kitchen.
When this happens, don’t give your rhubarb up as lost. You can still use the tough stalks to create a refreshing rhubarb drink recipe! Simple though it may be, rhubarb juice make a tasty concoction and is an excellent thirst quencher. After gardening or working outside in the hot sun, there’s nothing better than a cold, tangy, lightly sweetened drink!
Refreshing Rhubarb Drink Recipe
Rhubarb stalks with red peels will give your drink a lovely pink hue. Personally, I grow a red strawberry rhubarb and it creates the prettiest colored juice you ever did see!
If your rhubarb produces green stalks only (some do), you won’t get the same color. But the flavor will still be outstanding! Here’s a refreshing rhubarb drink recipe that’s alcohol-free and safe for the whole family!
Step 1: Harvest Your Rhubarb Stalks
Rhubarb is easy to harvest. And for anyone who doesn’t already know how, you don’t want to cut your rhubarb stalks to remove them from the parenting plant. Here’s the right way to harvest rhubarb (without damaging your plant).
- Grab the stalk about ¾ of the way down.
- Gently push (or pull) directly to one side.
- The thin base of your stalk will break loose from the rhubarb crown.
- Trim off the white end and also the big, fan-shaped leaf.
- Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so be sure to dispose of them in a place where neither children or animals will be tempted to nibble on them.
- Collect rhubarb, until you have about 4 lbs of stalks or you estimate there’s enough to make 8 C diced rhubarb.
Step 2: Rinse Your Rhubarb Stalks
Once you’ve collected and trimmed your stalks, it’s time to take the harvest indoors. Under cold running water, rinse rhubarb stalks free of dust, bugs or any other ‘foreign’ objects that are present.
If slugs or other bugs have been snacking on your stalks, cut these parts out. And then, it’s time to juice your rhubarb!
Step 3: Choose Your Juicing Method
At first glance, you wouldn’t think rhubarb had much to offer in the way of juice. But much like celery, rhubarb is composed of (approx) 95% water.
And there are two key ways you can juice it: 1) in a steam juicer and 2) by cooking stalks in water and then straining out the solids.
Option 1: The Steam Juicer
If you do lots of home food preservation, I can’t say enough good things about owning a steam juicer! The process is fast, tidy and results in a pure juice that is suitable for jelly making, canning and (my favorite) making homemade fruit vinegars.
Grapes, berries, plum and cherries, along with nearly every other type of fruit can be juiced in the steam juicer.
When it comes to rhubarb, all you have to do is cut stalks to length so they fit in the steamer’s basket. And away you go! Your steamer should come with specific directions for use and also how to prepare and process each type of fruit.
We also use our juice to steam cook vegetables. One of our favorite summer meals consists of light steamed young potatoes, carrots and beets from the garden!
Interested? I have a stainless steel model similar to this one here.
Option 2: The Traditional “Jelly Bag” Method
Traditionally women used to create juices by cooking fruit in a pot of water. After the fruit released it’s goodness, they would pour everything into a “jelly bag” that would hold the solids and allow juices to drip through into a bowl below.
This option creates a less potent juice, but nevertheless it’s still tasty enough to tempt a thirsty body!
To extract juice using this technique, you’ll need a large stockpot and a cotton cloth or jelly bag. Personally, I like to keep a collection of these flour sack tea towels on hand for all the straining I do in the kitchen during the summer and fall months.
Here’s step-by-step directions for you to follow!
- Dice rhubarb into ½ inch rings.
- Measure the rings into the pot until you have 8 C.
- Add approx 5 C water and cover pot with a lid.
- Simmer rhubarb for 15-20 minutes or until it is soft and mushy.
- Let cool until you can handle the pot without burning yourself.
- Line a large bowl with a cotton cloth (I use this type in my kitchen).
- Pour the pot’s contents into it.
- Gather up the cloth’s 4 corners and knot them together.
- Hang your homemade jelly bag where juices can drip into the bowl below.
- When the dripping stops, discard the rhubarb solids.
- Collect your juice and move on to the next step.
Step 4: How to Sweeten Your Rhubarb Juice
You can use sugar, honey or real northern maple syrup to sweeten your rhubarb drink. If using sugar or honey, I recommend stirring it in while things are still warm. It will help both honey and sugar properly dissolve. Real maple syrup can be added just before serving, along with a pinch of salt.
How much sweetener you use is entirely up to your personal taste! Start with a tablespoon and go from there. And if you add too much? Simply add more water to lighten the sweetness.
Step 5: How to Store Your Rhubarb Juice in the Fridge
This refreshing rhubarb drink recipe will keep for several weeks in the fridge. Store it in a jar with tight fitting lid and you can use whenever it’s needed!
I highly recommend pouring rhubarb juice over a glass of ice before serving.
Step 6: How to Preserve Your Rhubarb Drink in the Canner
If you wish to preserve your rhubarb juice via the waterbath canner, you need to add 2-3 tablespoons of honey or sugar per 1 C of juice. Here are the steps.
- Heat rhubarb juice to boiling in a stockpot.
- Add sugar or honey and stir to dissolve.
- Boil hard for 1 minute.
- Skim off foam and bubbles as best you can.
- Ladle juice into hot, 1 pint (500 ml) jars.
- Wipe jar rims and add hot lids.
- Tighten bands to fingertip tightness.
- For 0-1,000 ft in altitude, process in a boiling waterbath for 10 minutes.
- If you live at 1,001-3,000 ft, process for 15 minutes.
- For dwellers living 3,001-6,000 ft, process 20 minutes.
Want to read more about rhubarb? You may want to also check out these posts!
A Refreshing Rhubarb Drink Recipe
So there you have it! If you’re looking for ways to use up tough old rhubarb stalks, I just gave you an amazing idea and a tasty way to use up your rhubarb supply!
I hope you’ll give it a try. Any questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll get back to you!