8oz fresh or frozen rhubarb stalk (2 large stalks)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
Chop the rhubarb stalks into 3-inch pieces. Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Simmer for about 30 mins, until the rhubarb is very soft. Strain the rhubarb syrup through a fine sieve to strain out all the bits of rhubarb. The holes on a pasta drainer are too big and leave pieces of rhubarb, which don’t ruin the syrup, but do make it cloudy. You could also use cheesecloth for this step if you don’t have a sieve handy.
The puree that is left behind can be eaten like apple sauce or stirred into yogurt, and now you have your syrup, too!
It really is that simple. This method can be applied to nearly any fruit – the options are endless. Simply put as much fruit as you’d like into a saucepan, add enough water to about 3/4 of fruit level, making sure to measure how much water you use, then stir in sugar, measured according to how much water and fruit there is. Traditionally simply syrup is a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar, but I’ve found that you can easily reduce it to 1 cup water to 3/4 cup sugar if you use local, ripe fruit. You can also add some citrus juice or herbs like basil or rosemary to enhance the syrup.
The best fruits to use are rhubarb, any berry, apricot, cherry or plum. Peaches, pears, and nectarines are too delicate to give you a full flavoured syrup. It’s not necessary to pit cherries as you’re straining the puree at the end, but I do give them a light mash with a potato masher after a few minutes of simmering to break them apart.
You can now store your simple syrup in the fridge for a few weeks (if it lasts that long!). Or, break out your canning kit to preserve it for the winter months.
Fill your water bath canner with water and heat it up. Prepare clean jars and lids, pint jars are a perfect size. Fill clean jars with the hot syrup. Leave 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and add your lids and rings. Process in the canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the canner and let it sit 5 minutes with the lid off. Then remove the jars and let them cool on a wooden board.
This will make a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day, or even better, Christmas gift, if you can resist the urge to drink it for that long.