Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka

Oh, how I love rhubarb… firm, strong, long stalks of fresh pinky-green tartness just waiting to be paired with any number of flavours in desserts such as crumbles, tarts, pies, cakes, biscuits or even made into refreshing beverages just perfect to share with your most favourite friends and family.

 Home Grown RhubarbRhubarb season is an exciting time – especially as I have a plentiful, organic, homegrown supply courtesy of my rather brilliant Grandfather. As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter during the splendid month of May, the vegetable patch at the back of his house is brimming with the glorious sight of those large, deep-green coloured and – incidentally – highly poisonous leaves. After gently pulling a few stalks from the crown of the plant, use a sharp knife to slice the leaves off and assign them to the compost heap.

Rhubarb sticksHaving returned from a recent visit to said rhubarb patch with a great big bag full of the glorious stuff, I set about making my favourite tipple…Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka. I dusted off a couple of large Kilner Jars and sterilised them by running them through the hot dishwasher and leaving to air dry. (For other ways to sterilise your jars and bottles and the reasons why it is important, read this post.)
Chopped RhubarbFollowing a good wash, I roughly chopped the stalks and added them to the jar which had been ‘zeroed’ on my digital scales. Rhubarb Vanilla Sugar in Jar

For a 1 litre bottle of vodka, you’ll need around 600g of fresh rhubarb and 300g of sugar. I used my homemade vanilla sugar and added a couple of the pods from that to heighten the rhubarb/vanilla flavour even more. (If you don’t happen to have vanilla sugar, start some now, and for this recipe, use one whole vanilla pod, sliced lengthways, or one teaspoon of vanilla paste, or a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract. Don’t bother with that evil impostor known as vanilla essence, it really isn’t worth it.)
Rhubarb Vanilla Sugar and Vodka in a jarThrow it all in, secure the lid and give it a good shake to help the sugar dissolve. It’s as easy as that! Leave it in the fridge or a cool, dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks and give it a good shake every week. It’ll quickly turn a very pretty blush pink colour and the flavours will strengthen the longer you can leave it.

rhubarb vanilla vodkaWhen you are happy that it has taken on the delectable flavours and you are ready to share your new creation, sterilise some pretty bottles while you strain the vodka through muslin. The rhubarb will need a good squeeze as it will have absorbed an awful lot during it’s long soak in the alcohol!

Homemade Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka

Decant the clear pink liquid into your bottles and decorate with contrasting ribbon and a pretty label. I have given bottles as birthday presents as well as hostess gifts. It is delicious served chilled over ice, shaken with ice and served in martini glasses, served long in a hi-ball with lots of ice and a fiery ginger beer, in champagne flutes with a chilled sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava, or – as our dear Grandfather made my cousin have it at 4 in the afternoon – neat.!

Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka in Kilner bottle with handwritten label

Rhubarb also pairs well with ginger and strawberry, so do let me know if you try it with either of those – either in the ‘maturing’ phase or as a mixer. As Niki Segnit highlights in her delightful book ‘The Flavour Thesaurus‘, Rhubarb goes well with juniper, so why not try a ‘Rhubarb Gin Fizz’ by pouring some of your delicious rhubarb & vanilla vodka into a champagne flute, adding a splash of gin, then topping up with chilled sparkling wine? Perfect for a Summer dinner party with friends. Cheers!

 

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