Sweet, tart and refreshing, rhubarb lemonade is the perfect spring beverage–from your garden or a fun farm market trip.
You’ve got to love the beautiful spring. The fresh aromas, warming weather, longer days… and blossoms everywhere! And for locavores, even the small harvests are amazing–woodsy morels, garlicky ramps and tart rhubarb. Yum!
A few years back, I started growing rhubarb in my garden—and I should have done it years earlier! Yes, inspiring rhubarb recipes are waiting, from tasty rhubarb baked goods to delicious rhubarb drinks! Like today’s tasty rhubarb lemonade (or the old-fashioned strawberry rhubarb shrub that’s now solidly back in style).
Happily, making Rhubarb Lemonade is super easy. Boil sugar, water, and rhubarb to make a syrup, strain, add lemon & water, then serve! You’ll have plenty of energy left to go out and enjoy the season!
What is Rhubarb Lemonade (and is it Pink Lemonade)?
Rhubarb Lemonade is lemonade that has been enhanced, that is flavored and colored, by the addition of a rhubarb syrup. It’s pretty, tasty, and fun! But the question is, is it pink lemonade?
Now, per Wikipedia, pink lemonade is a “popular variation of traditional lemonade… created by adding additional fruit juices, flavors, or food coloring to the recipe. Most store-bought pink lemonade is simply colored with concentrated grape juice or dyes.”
So, since my Rhubarb Lemonade is lemonade flavored with rhubarb juice, I guess it counts as pink lemonade. But unlike a dyed (eeuuww…) store-bought pink lemonade, you get some extra nutrition from the rhubarb.
That’s right. WebMD says that “Rhubarb is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is an essential vitamin for bone health and blood clotting. The vitamin A in rhubarb may also help to fight free radicals that cause skin damage and premature aging, keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful. It’s also high in antioxidants, and many other important vitamins and minerals that provide a variety of health benefits.” Hooray!
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. Lemonade is delicious. But adding something “extra” like rhubarb provides a more nuanced flavor and takes it over the top! Yum!
Easy. For this simple recipe, you make a syrup by boiling rhubarb, water and sugar, then mix it with lemon juice. Easy-peasy!
Indulgent. This drink feels special but is guilt-free too. How lucky is that!
What You’ll Need
- Water. This is used to prepare the rhubarb syrup and to dilute the syrup and lemon juice.
- Sugar. This sweetens the lemonade and counters the tart lemon and rhubarb flavors.
- Rhubarb. This flavors and colors the lemonade.
- Fresh lemon juice. This flavors and colors the lemonade.
- No special tools required!
Step by Step Directions
To make the syrup, mix water and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Add sliced rhubarb and simmer on low until rhubarb is soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes.
Strain syrup and reserve pulp if desired. It’s delicious added to yogurt, oatmeal or muffins! Cool the syrup.
To prepare a pitcher of rhubarb lemonade, mix syrup (makes about 1 cup), ½ cup lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons) and 1 – 1½ quarts water (to taste).
How to Serve
This is a delicious seasonal beverage and it’s easy to find a good excuse to serve it!
Give the kids a treat after school, then send them out to enjoy a beautiful day. Have a glass on the deck with a good friend–or a good book. Reward yourself after weeding the azaleas–or maybe for planting some rhubarb (see below for tips)!
Now more often than not, I just serve my rhubarb lemonade over ice. But if I’m entertaining guests, I like to dress it up. Stir in some lemon or lime slices and add a sprig of mint! It’s as pretty as it is tasty!
Variations and Special Diets
To turn Rhubarb Lemonade into a pleasant and unique cocktail, you can add a shot of gin or vodka to a glass for a Rhubarb Collins!
This is already vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free. Since lemon juice and rhubarb are both low carb it’s easy to convert this to low carb. All it takes is to use a non-caloric sweetener. But stir the sweetener into the warm syrup rather than boil it with it.
If you’re a stevia fan, you can use this as your sweetener, though your yield will be slightly lower. For a sweetener that still has bulk, I tend to go with allulose or an allulose blend because, unlike sweeteners like erythritol, it doesn’t readily crystalize or have a “cooling” mouthfeel. Allulose has about 70% the sweetness of sugar, so you might need to add more or supplement with a few drops of stevia. Or just enjoy a slightly tarter beverage.
Why Grow Rhubarb
As one of the first harvests of the year, rhubarb has a special place in the hearts of many locavores. Then you can start making tasty treats like:
And now that you’re enjoying some tasty rhubarb recipes, why not consider growing some yourself?
If you have even a tiny bit of time to garden, rhubarb provides one of the best returns on investment for a home gardener. It’s so handy to have right in your backyard and happily, it’s beginner easy!
First, rhubarb is a perennial, so it comes back every year. Second, it’s almost completely maintenance free. All I do is cut off flower stalks–if I spot them. And then every few years, I divide my rhubarb when it’s getting too big for its location. This gives me either an additional (free) rhubarb plant for myself or one for a friend!
Take a look at my post on How to Grow Rhubarb for more information.
Finally remember that only the rhubarb stems (aka stalks) are edible. The plant is high in oxalic acid which is toxic in the large quantities you find in the leaves, etc. But even though you can’t eat the leaves, they can still be composted.
Tips & FAQs
Did you know that lemons freeze well? Whenever I use part of a bag of lemons—or even half of a lemon, the extras go in my freezer. You can even pre-slice lemon remains, to have “instant” lemon slices!
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups sliced rhubarb about 3 large stalks
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 - 1 1/2 quarts water or fizzy water
- To make syrup, mix water and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Add sliced rhubarb and simmer on low until rhubarb is soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes.
- Strain syrup and reserve pulp if desired (to add to yogurt, oatmeal or muffins). Cool syrup.
- To prepare a pitcher of rhubarb lemonade, mix syrup (makes about 1 cup), ½ cup lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons) and 1 – 1½ quarts water (to taste).
Updated from the original, published on May 15, 2017
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