As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have quite a few cooking fears. I can bake like a demon and deep-fry with the best of them, I’ve made macarons, a croquembouche and bread galore. But I’ve never attempted making jam, because I freak out about sterilising jars. I also have issues with making cocktails and drinks for some reason. I’ve been bookmarking recipes for ginger beer for months now, but the instructions always sound more like a science experiment and then there’s the whole “bottle may explode” thing to contend with.
So while those projects sit untouched for now, I’m taking baby steps. When I saw a recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger cordial in Jamie Oliver magazine, the first thought I had was “he stole my idea!” and the second thought was, “well I guess I better make it then.” The flavour combination sounded absolutely fantastic. Rhubarb is in season at the moment, and I already had some fresh ginger at home. The process was much less painful than I thought it would be, and I’m not sure why I was ever concerned about it in the first place.
I replaced the caster sugar with an equal amount of vanilla sugar that I had for an extra dimension of flavour. This cordial was pretty sweet though, so I would even suggest dialling down the sugar to 150g if you prefer. What I really loved was the subtle ginger flavour. It wasn’t overpowering but it was definitely present and made this a really nice, refreshing drink. Definitely one for rhubarb lovers like me!
I can imagine taking this on picnics in spring to drink alongside a lunch tasty sandwiches, cakes and cookies. And I imagine it would also be absolutely delicious with vodka and lime. Now I’ve made one fantastic cordial, I can’t stop thinking of other flavour combinations that would be fabulous as well. Next up, home-made ginger beer, and hopefully no exploding bottles!
Rhubarb and Ginger Cordial
Makes about 500ml
Adapted from Jamie Oliver magazine
• 1 orange
• 400g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces
• 150g vanilla sugar (or golden caster sugar)
• 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, sliced
• Soda water or lemonade, to serve
Cut thick strips of orange zest then squeeze the juice into a saucepan. Place the rhubarb with the vanilla sugar, ginger and orange zest in the pan with the juice and set over a high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Place a sieve over a mixing bowl. Carefully press the rhubarb through the sieve with a wooden spoon, pressing down to extract as much of the juice as possible. Discard the solids and allow the juice to cool before pouring it into a sterilised bottle. Chill, then dilute to your taste with soda water or lemonade.