Rhubarb season is upon us. I love the ruby red color of rhubarb. I only started using it a couple of years ago because I never knew what it was. It looks like reddish green celery with huge inedible leaves at the top of the stalks. Although technically a vegetable, rhubarb is traditionally used in the US as a fruit. Although many people like to just use it in pie or sweet confections usually to compliment strawberries, there are many uses for rhubarb including chutneys, relishes, sauces, compotes, ice cream and sorbets. For a unique, delicious, and refreshing concoction, I decided to make some homemade syrup to make a natural soda for my daughter. She likes the fizzy stuff but we don’t drink “regular” soda in our household. She really relished the tart flavor of the rhubarb with the addition of sugar to take out the natural sour pucker to the lips.

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sugar

1 whole star anise

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup water

Combine everything in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook gently until the fruit is soft and the liquid has thickened slightly, about 15 – 20 minutes. Ladle into a fine strainer (or a coarse strainer lined with cheesecloth) that has been placed over a large bowl. Strain until most of the liquid is in the bowl. Give a little press on the solids with a spoon to extract more syrup. Pour the syrup into a clean bottle, cover or cork the bottle and refrigerate. It should keep for a couple of months in the coldest part of the fridge if it lasts that long. The solids make a nice rough jam if you want to maximize using all of your produce.

Uses

Mix three parts club soda to 1 part syrup to make a refreshing drink with a lime wedge.

Use with alcohol to make a Bellini (Champagne), Mojitos (Rum) or Martini (Vodka)

Drizzle over plain or vanilla yogurt,  vanilla ice cream, and or/cake.