I've started my Christmas gifts already.
Seems a little early I know but I had a last harvest of ruby red rhubarb a couple of months ago and took the opportunity to create something for the store cupboard.
We talk a lot about preserving on this blog; bottling, pickling, dehydrating...
well another method is to use alcohol.
In this instance I've extracted the rhubarb and vanilla into vodka.
After washing 600g of rhubarb cut it into 2cm lengths and place into a stainless steel pan with 250g sugar and a split and scraped vanilla pod. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar and then cook to soften which only takes a few minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Place the cooled mixture into a 2 litre sterilised jar and pour over a bottle of vodka (700-750ml) and stir and seal. Shake occasionally.
This is the mixture when it is first put up. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the progress photos that showed the vodka developing a deeper colour and the rhubarb swelling and jammy.
After a couple of months it should have developed a lovely pink colour and it can be strained and decanted into sterilised bottles for sealing.
The vodka has now taken on the flavours and sweetness and can be drunk neat as a type of liquor or mixed with lemonade or soda over ice or even a dash in champagne and I bet there are other cocktail recipes to be imagined too.
Mine made four small bottles of which I will label and put aside for giving at Christmas.
The same can be done with many different fruits, you've probably already heard of sloe gin which is gin infused with sloe berries. Lee uses damson plums also in a similar way.
Shake the pinky gorgeousness to distribute the settled vanilla seeds before enjoying.
One final tip, because of the high oxalic acid in the rhubarb, strain through stainless steel strainers or cloth as it will react with plain metal like wire mesh strainers. Naturally also the pink varieties of rhubarb are what is needed for the beautiful colour.
This takes very little effort and creates a stunning gift.