Ruby Rhubarb Syrup

I have been contemplating something for the past few years, and now I am quite certain of two things:

  1. I DO need to plant more rhubarb.
  2. I really AM turning into my mother!!
It’s an impossibility for me to cut rhubarb from the yard without thinking of Mom. As a kid, I thought she was completely nutso for her love of “that weed” growing alongside the garage on the farm. But every year for the past 10 years or so, my own fondness for rhubarb has grown. So much so, that I am making plans for a bigger harvest next year. Come fall, I am going to divide my big plant. Its stalks have been smaller the past couple of years, telling me it needs the elbow room anyway.
When I saw the idea for a rhubarb syrup in Heartland, I knew I had to try it. The possibilities for its use seemed to be endless!
This Ruby Rhubarb Syrup, while it cooked away on the stove, smelled so lovely. And the color! That shiny  redness is pure rhubarb, with no added colorants. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And tasty, too…I burned my tongue (more than once!) because I was too impatient for it to cool down.
I plan to keep experimenting, but our favorite way to use this syrup, so far, is to drizzle it over a bowl of fresh berries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Such a simple and beautiful way to snag a sweet bite at the end of a spring meal.

Ruby Rhubarb Syrup

Yield: almost 5 cups of syrup


  • 6 c. chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 1-1/2 c. water
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice


In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the rhubarb and water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the rhubarb until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir to break up and release all of its juices.

Set a fine mesh strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour the rhubarb mixture through the strainer to remove the pulp. To get the most rhubarb juice out, pull up the corners of the cheesecloth and gently press on it with a wooden spoon to squeeze out the remaining juice. Measure the strained juice and add enough water to equal 3 cups. Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let cool. Strain again for the clearest ruby syrup, then pour into a container and refrigerate. Keeps well for up to 1 month.

Adapted from Heartland, by Judith Fertig. (This is so much more than a cookbook. It's a celebration of the Midwest.)


I’m linking up with:

  • Robyn at Add a Pinch for Mingle Monday (Take the Shot :: Part 2)

61 Responses to “Ruby Rhubarb Syrup”

  1. #
    Blog is the New Black — May 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    All these rhubarb posts are making me NEED to try rhubarb already! ;)

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      I’m not quite done yet!! ;)

  2. #
    helen — May 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    mmmm, sounds delish! I think I had better go and pick some rhubarb from my garden. I wonder if it would be nice drizzled over a lemon & sourcream cake?mmmm, might have to try that too xx

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      That sounds excellent, Helen! Anything lemon would be lovely.

  3. #
    Jen A — May 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Yum! I need to move my rhubarb to a new spot as well. When I have made this in the past (kind of by accident, was hoping for jam) my kids really liked it on waffles ;)

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      I have been meaning to make waffles…it’s the first thing that came to mind when it was hot off the stove.

  4. #
    SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen — May 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    This looks like an amazing recipe. We have an abundant rhubarb harvest and I love it – it’s one of those veggies I grew up eating, and like you, that has fond memories! We just had our first taste of the season this week in blueberry rhubarb muffins & over pork tenderloin. Yum. I’ve pinned this one, and will certainly be trying it out. Do you think it would be tasty over Greek Yogurt? Over pancakes?

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Over pork tenderloin…that sounds so interesting! Yum! It’s definitely good over Greek yogurt. And I am planning to try it out over waffles this week…

  5. #
    Kristen — May 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    This is such a smart recipe. Can I admit to you that I’ve never had rhubarb? Ever? I think I need to change that this year!

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      I’m finding this recipe so versatile, and am loving it. I hope you get the chance to try some rhubarb this spring!

  6. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — May 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Oooooh I can’t wait to slather this on anything and everything!

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      I could imagine a drizzle of this syrup over your Honey Cornbread Donuts…yum!!! :)

  7. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    You are making me wish we had room for a proper garden in the backyard! I would be in heaven to have rhubarb growing there.

  8. #
    Shaina — May 3, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    This is just brilliant. I now know what to do with my second rhubarb picking. (The first I sent away to a good home.)

  9. #
    Michele N — May 4, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Unfortunately my rhubarb syrup wouldn’t be red…my rhubarb never turned red last year & doesn’t appear to be turning red this year either. My husband & my daughter have been eating it even while green.

    • Susanne replied on May 6th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I think there is a green variety and a red variety. Mine is green too – but still delicious!

      • Michele N replied on May 7th, 2012 at 9:22 am

        Yeah, the first year or two it was red & now it’s mainly green. I think I need to divide it though, the thing is huge!

        • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

          Hi Michele – I know that there are green varieties, too. But I also dug around a little online and found that some claim that if you once had red rhubarb & it’s now green, that the big leaves make the soil acidic. I saw suggested to lay wood ashes around the plant, and that the following year would yield red stalks again. I have no idea if this actually works, but thought I would pass it along.

  10. #
    Kathryn — May 4, 2012 at 2:45 am

    If I had any outside space at all, the very first thing I would grow would be rhubarb. This is such a wonderful colour!

  11. #
    jill — May 4, 2012 at 5:12 am

    looks like heaven!

  12. #
    Becca - Cookie Jar Treats — May 4, 2012 at 5:48 am

    That syrup is such a pretty color! It’s amazing how beautiful natural colors can be without the “aid” of red dye no. 45789435.

  13. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — May 4, 2012 at 5:54 am

    This sounds lovely, and I can imagine it on so many things. Awesome idea!

  14. #
    Sue {munchkin munchies} — May 4, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Look at that gorgeous red! I need to plant some rhubarb in my garden this year!

  15. #
    Avril — May 4, 2012 at 8:26 am

    LOVE this recipe….LOVE your sweet little green and white polka dotted bowl. Happy Friday!

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you, Avril! :)

  16. #
    MommaMary — May 4, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This sounds lovely! My grandmother had rhubarb plants all along the side of her garden, about 25 plants. Have you seen the bulb? It looks like a hairy football.

  17. #
    Paula — May 4, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Wow! Now this is one way I’m pretty sure I would enjoy rhubarb! Looking forward to posts on your future experiments with this.

  18. #
    Vicki Bensinger — May 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Mmm that really sounds good. I had never done much with Rhubarb but back in 2010 I purchased the book “Eating Local” at SurLaTable and made the recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce and put it over ice cream. I died and went to heaven it was so good. (

    I imagine this tastes sensational as well. I’m going to make it and what we don’t finish I’ll put in a jar for another day. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks for sharing that strawberry rhubarb sauce – that sounds delicious, too!

  19. #
    Sara — May 4, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Sharing a new cookbook by a friend of mine, Kim Ode, columnist for the Mpls Star Tribune: Rhubarb Renaissance. I’m not a rhubarb fan, but some of the recipes in her cookbook could make me change that!

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you so much, Sara!

  20. #
    Julie Snow — May 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This looks awesome! I too thought my mom was nuts with her rhubarb all the time. But I adore it now! I am pinning this right now to make it later.

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      I hope you like this, too!! Thanks for pinning.

  21. #
    Emily — May 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Rhubarb definetly makes me think of my mom, too. Looks delish!

  22. #
    Tracy S — May 5, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I like to add a little rhubarb syrup to sparkling water! Make your own Rhubarb Pop! Yum.

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      I haven’t done that yet…thank you! :)

  23. #
    Amanda — May 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Wow that is stunning!

  24. #
    Elissa — May 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I just love the color of this syrup. I don’t think that I ever had had rhubarb but I keep running into recipes this spring that include it. I’m going to keep an eye out for it at the store or farmers market :)

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      If you like some tart with your sweet, rhubarb is wonderful!

  25. #
    Giselle — May 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    This is the first time I have heard about Ruby Rhubarb Syrup and I just remember my Aunt Sue when I hear about it.. Thanks for the post anyway..

  26. #
    Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf — May 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Oh, my!! You are going to turn me into a full rhubarb convert yet! I’m drooling over that bowl of berries with ice cream and RRS. If I’d already made some, we could have had that tonight. I did see some good-looking rhubarb today in the grocery so I’ll make a trip back. Hope your week’s going well so far!

    • Brenda replied on May 7th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Our oldest daughter completely inhaled this syrup over ice cream and berries. This would be a good place to start with rhubarb! :)

  27. #
    DessertForTwo — May 8, 2012 at 12:20 am

    My grandma grew rhubarb out by the tractor sheds. My grandpa hated it and every year, he would ‘accidentally’ run the tractor over it. That darn plant loved it! It kept growing bigger & bigger! It always made me giggle how much she loved it & he cursed it.

    This syrup looks absolutely delicious.

    I told myself (early 20s self), that the moment I bought a house, I would do 2 things: plant rhubarb & plant asparagus (since they both take a while to establish before harvest). Well, it looks like we’re closing on a house on Thursday, so I better get to it, no?

    We should be friends :) We’re both farm girls :)

    • Brenda replied on May 8th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Ha! Rhubarb IS hard to kill!!

  28. #
    DessertForTwo — May 8, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Also, thanks for the cookbook rec! We’re moving to the mid-West (Kansas!) tomorrow and I’m so excited for the new culture. I’m expecting it to be a little like the South I know and love, but slightly different? I can’t wait!

    • Brenda replied on May 8th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Best wishes on your move!!

  29. #
    Maria — May 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Love the color! Can’t wait to try this!

    • Brenda replied on May 8th, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you, Maria. It’s stunning – hope you like it, too!

  30. #
    lauren — May 10, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Mmmm I love Rhubard, this looks delicious!

  31. #
    sarah — May 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! I am crazy about rhubarb.

  32. #
    Cathy — May 25, 2012 at 3:37 am

    I also love rhubarb and think of my mother when I see, or taste it! I don’t have any growing in my garden and you have inspired me to do just that! This syrup looks like something I NEED to have on hand for the rest of my life! Your photos are fab! Can’t wait to make some. May I share this link on my FB page?:)

  33. #
    LisaH — June 29, 2012 at 12:05 am

    This came out beautifully, with a nice slightly-tart sweet flavor. Since I only came up with two cups of juice after dripping and pressing, I poured the additional water through my rhubarb pulp to eke out the last of the flavor and color. The syrup is such a pretty color, too.

    • Brenda replied on July 2nd, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Wonderful! I’m so glad you liked it, too. Thank you for letting me know. :)

      • LisaH replied on July 2nd, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        I made a second batch–a double batch–and it came out even better! I extracted about 1/2 cup of the juice with a juicer, but that was about as much as my juicer wanted to do. The rest of it was exactly as you have in the recipe. I love this stuff and have used it in milkshakes, on ice cream, and in homemade soda. :) Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  34. #
    Brenda — June 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Your picture is just lovely. This syrup is wonderful in soda water, and I also enjoy using it in my home-brewed kombucha for its second ferment.

    • Brenda replied on June 4th, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Wonderful! I need to make a batch yet this spring!

  35. #
    Kate — October 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Looks yummy. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Brenda!


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