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Every time I mention having rhubarb in the garden, my mate Sharen says, ‘Mmmmm … Rhubarb Schnapps‘. After nearly three years of this response from Sharen, I’ve finally made the stuff. But I have to confess, it’s from rhubarb sourced from my local organic fruit & veg shop, Naturally on High. And that is a bit of a story in itself (it’s possible I shall forever be known as ‘rhubarb girl’) …

I couldn’t use homegrown rhubarb for the Schnapps because I moved my crowns not so long ago, and they’re yet to get to a decent size. But they are much happier where I’ve put them, for a couple of reasons. First, like most rhizomes, rhubarb doesn’t like wet feet; growing it in a raised bed or on mounds is advisable. Second, rhubarb likes to be warm, but not too warm in summer, so I’ve moved it to a spot where it will get shade from the western sun in the afternoons. A final tip about rhubarb – it doesn’t like strong food, so feeding it with compost or a liquid fertiliser is best, rather than manure.

Rhubarb is a delicious and versatile vegetable (apparently, in 1947 in the US it was deemed a ‘fruit’, for reasons of trade and tariff). I’ve got a great Rhubarb & Orange Jam recipe that almost makes itself, which I’ll post here some time. Oh, and Rhubarb & Ginger Chutney is another winner, as is the favourite in this house – Rhubarb & Apple Crumble. And then there’s Sharen, with her Rhubarb Schnapps obsession … Perhaps now I’ve made it, and once I’ve waited the requisite six weeks, I’ll better understand. Perhaps we all will.

Sharen’s Rhubarb Schnapps Recipe

As Sharen says, the hardest part about this recipe is waiting the six weeks before you can drink it. Another level of patience for me, given how long I’ve been planning to post this, was waiting for rhubarb to appear at Naturally on High. While you can use the cheapest vodka for the Schnapps, I wanted to use the best rhubarb, and organic rhubarb comes in intermittent bursts. Last Friday, I finally got the call …

Foothills Organics Rhubarb

Ingredients

  • Approximately 1kg rhubarb, trimmed and chopped to about 600g
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 litre vodka (have two bottles on hand, in case you need more)
  • 2 x 1 litre jars
  • 1 x 1 litre bottle (you have six weeks to sort this out)

Chop the rhubarb and divide it evenly between the two jars. Add 150g sugar to each jar, put the lids on and give the rhubarb and sugar mix a good shake. Add 500ml vodka to each jar and shake again. The mixture should look something like this:

Rhubarb schnapps

Now, the hard bit. Store in a cool, dark place for six weeks (the recipe says up to six months but, really, I don’t think so). For the first month, shake the jars gently every other day. Within a day or so, the vodka will take on a beautiful pinkish-red glow, calling to you, tempting you …

Once the wait is up, strain the Schnapps into a jug and pour it into your litre bottle. And there you have it – Rhubarb Schnapps. As with vodka in general, keep the Schnapps in the freezer, bringing it out for special occasions … (when I’ve bottled up, I’ll post a picture here). No doubt some kind of amazing label design will eventuate. I’m looking forward to that almost as much as to the Rhubarb Schnapps. Almost.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb: There are countless good reasons to grow rhubarb in your garden, not least the possibility of an endless supply of Rhubarb Schnapps.

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