Saturday, 30 June 2012

Recipe - Strawberry-Rhubarb Syrup



It is Canada Day long weekend (eh?)! I thought it would be perfect to put together something sweet, refreshing, summery, and red for the occasion. I actually adapted a recent recipe of Chef John's from Food Wishes.He's a San Francisco based chef who is nothing less than a culinary wizard. While I was in England a few weeks ago he posted a pure strawberry syrup recipe. I adapted it by using half strawberries, half rhubarb and a splash of orange blossom water. It was incredibly easy and produced the most sensational aromas. There's a little fruit and vegetable market that I frequent on my street and they've had incredibly vibrant rhubarb recently. I needed an excuse to use them. They were calling for me! In the house that my family lived in when I was born we had rhubarb growing in our garden. It always takes me back to my childhood. 

I feel inclined to warn you that the large leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous and if consumed will make you very sick. So if you are going to try this recipe (and I recommend that you do), discard any leafy part of the rhubarb if it appears. Only use the reddish-green stalk of the rhubarb (the part that kind of resembles celery). This recipe is fun because it begins beautiful, gets really ugly in the middle, and becomes beautiful again. You'll see what I mean.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds of fresh strawberries
4 stalks of fresh rhubarb
3 cups of white granulated sugar
6 cups of cold water
A splash of orange blossom water (optional)

Method

Wash all your fruit in cold water. Slice the strawberries into quarters and chop the rhubarb into pieces. The size of the rhubarb pieces doesn't have to be exact because they break down a lot under heat. I roughly chopped mine to about one-inch pieces. It should look something like this when you're done. 

Isn't that beautiful?
Place your slices of fruit in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour six cups of cold water over them and bring to the boil on high heat.

When the fruit and water comes to the boil, stir and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Let the mixture simmer on a low setting for fifteen minutes.
After fifteen minutes, the fruit will look pretty nasty. Don't worry, it's supposed to. We want all of the beautiful colour and flavour out of the fruit and into the liquid. Remove from the heat. Place a mesh strainer over another saucepan and ladle in the fruit pulp. All the flavourful liquid should fall through the strainer and into the other saucepan. You can press the pulp with your ladle to release more of the liquid but doing so will result in a  cloudy, less presentable product. I didn't, but it's up to you. It should look something like this when you're done (I told you it gets ugly).
Gross!
Discard the fruit pulp into your compost or "green bin" (you have one of those, right?). Afterwards you will be left with garnet-red aromatic nectar. Add all of the sugar to the liquid and give it a good stir. Bring this to the boil again. Once it's at the boil, reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 5 minutes. During this time, remove any foam that may appear on top.
After 5 minutes the sugar will all have dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. This is a completely optional step, but after it stops steaming you can add a little splash of orange blossom water and stir. A little goes a long way and you don't want it to overpower the insatiable flavour of the strawberries and rhubarb. So keep it to a little splash. Once the liquid is cool, pour into the container of your choice. Guess what, now you have strawberry-rhubarb syrup!

"Thanks Bram, now what do I do with this?"

Like all recipes that you will see on this blog I encourage you to get creative! But here are a few ideas to get you started. 
- Add to lemonade
- Add to iced tea
- Place 1/3 to 1/2 in a glass and top with club soda for a refreshing summery drink (a shot of vodka or Amaretto will also play well with this mixture if you're of age and enjoy responsibly)
- Mix with plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola 
- Spoon over vanilla ice cream
- Use it to make popsicles
- Whatever your heart desires

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