Monday, May 21, 2012

Spiced Rhubarb-Ginger Nectar - May 20, 2012

Usually, the rhubarb Nick and I get in our CSA share gets used for beverages.  While I like rhubarb's taste, I don't care for it's texture and it's tendency to make baked goods really soggy.  I find infusing it into assorted liquids is the best way for me to enjoy the tart flavor and fleeting season.  In the past, I've infused vodka and gin, custard for making rhubarb ice cream, and simple syrup for homemade sodas.  Of this list, I've found the simple syrup gets the most use due to it's versatility.  I briefly considered making rhubarb iced tea and rhubarb-ade (via A to Z), but in the end, the syrup won out. 

This go around, I wanted to make the syrup more complex, inspired by my favorite Thyme-Pink Peppercorn Soda that Jaime just posted about, and decided to use a combination of rhubarb, fresh ginger, and lemon juice.  I seasoned this with an assortment of toasted spices.  Here's my recipe:

Spiced Rhubarb-Ginger Nectar

1 lb fresh rhubarb, chopped in 1/2 in pieces
2-3 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped finely
Juice of two lemons
2 1/2 C sugar
3-4 C water
1 T coriander seeds
1 T pink peppercorns
3 whole white cardamom pods
1 whole star anise

Lightly toast the last four ingredients in a pan over med-high heat, until just fragrant (60-90 sec).  Transfer to a mortar and pestle and tap the spices firmly three to four times to lightly crush, and release more flavor.  Secure the spices in cheese cloth.  Put cheese cloth-wrapped spices in a large pot with all other ingredients and heat to a gentle simmer.  Simmer 5-10 minutes and remove from heat.  Cover pot and let steep for 30 minutes to an hour (mine actually steeped a bit longer since I got wrapped up in watching Star Wars Episode III on TV...oops).  Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth.  Transfer to a storage container and chill.

It turned out just how I wanted it, spicy and complex.  I feel like all of the flavors are nicely balanced, with no one being overly assertive.  The rhubarb hits the palate first, followed closely by ginger, and then the lovely, mysterious flavor of the spice blend finishes the sip. 

I've used this syrup to make Spicy Rhubarb-Ginger Sodas by adding a quarter cup of syrup to a glass and topping it with soda water.  Nick and I also made cocktails last night using equal parts rhubarb syrup and liquor (Nick used Tito's Vodka and I used Old Sugar Factory's Honey Liqueur), crushed ice, and soda water to fill the glass.
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1 comment:

Jaime said...

I miss rhubarb... In Wisconsin I was always so excited to eat it in early spring, but grew tired of it long before it's season ended. I bought some rhubarb at the farmer's market here this spring, but it was painful to spend money on what has always been a "free" food.


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