Rhubarb and Rose Pressé
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    Makes about 250ml (Serves 6–10)
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My brain is programmed to remember that the rhubarb season usually ends around April, but this year the season seems longer to me. At the end of May, I still received an armful of outdoor rhubarb and so I thought it best to make and write one of my favourite recipes that uses this wonderful ingredient.

I have made rhubarb pressé (or cordial) by accident in the past. What I mean by this is that I did not actually set out to make pressé, but it was a by-product from poaching rhubarb for some baked white chocolate and rhubarb cheesecakes. For those cheesecakes, I vacuumed the rhubarb with a couple of tablespoons each of grenadine and caster sugar and then cooked it in the water bath at 80°C for 10–12 minutes, until the rhubarb was just soft to the touch. This was then chilled over ice. When I was ready to use it, I drained the juices from the poached rhubarb. The rhubarb was then used for the cheesecakes and the syrup was used in the bar for making cocktails – anything from non-alcoholic lemonades to rhubarb and rosé wine spritzers or rhubarb martinis. Our customers loved them and I really liked the fact that the by-product was used in delicious drinks recipes.

This recipe makes a rhubarb and rose syrup or pressé that can be used in two different drinks – a non-alcoholic lemonade and a sophisticated alcoholic tonic, both of which are perfect for serving as a refreshing drink on a warm summer’s evening. The tonic, in particular, makes a wonderful party drink, and will make you the envied host or hostess amongst your friends. The cooked rhubarb pulp makes a wonderful ‘jam’ or spread too (see Cook’s Note for some serving suggestions), so nothing goes to waste.

See also the accompanying video for how to make this delicious rhubarb and rose pressé.

photo of rhubarb and rose presse

Ingredients & Method

  • 350g (prepared weight) fresh outdoor (maincrop) rhubarb or forced rhubarb, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons grenadine
  • 100ml cold water
  • 3 tablespoons edible dried rose petals
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid

To serve

  • ice
  • chilled lemonade, still or sparkling water or tonic water
  • artisan gin or vodka
  • lemon slices or edible dried rose petals, to finish

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and line a roasting tin with non-stick baking paper.

Put the rhubarb slices in the prepared roasting tin, add the sugar, grenadine, water and rose petals and stir to mix, then spread the mixture out evenly. Roast (uncovered) in the oven for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir in the rosewater to taste. (The flavour of the rosewater will be strong when the mixture is hot, but it will become mellow and less concentrated as the mixture cools and the syrup is then chilled.)

Pass the rhubarb and rose mixture through a fine sieve, stir in the citric acid, then pour the syrup into a warm, sterilised bottle. Cover, seal and cool, then refrigerate until needed. Use the leftover rhubarb pulp as a ‘jam’ or spread – see Cook’s Note for serving suggestions.

The unopened bottle of pressé will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within a week. Alternatively, freeze the pressé in portions (in freezer bags) for up to 3 months, then defrost and use as required.

Rhubarb and Rose Lemonade (Serves 6)

Pour the chilled rhubarb and rose pressé over ice into 6 glasses, dividing it equally between each glass (you’ll need all of the 250ml pressé to make these drinks). Top up with chilled lemonade or still or sparkling water to taste, stir gently and serve. Finish the drinks with lemon slices, if you like. Enjoy!

Rhubarb and Rose Tonic (Serves 10)

This is my delicious play on the classic gin and tonic drink. Pour about 25ml chilled rhubarb and rose pressé over ice into 10 tumbler glasses. Add your choice of spirit (gin or vodka) to taste, then top up the drinks with chilled tonic water, stir and serve. I finish my cocktails with a few dried rose petals, but this is purely optional. Enjoy!

Cook’s Note

Spoon the leftover rhubarb pulp into a sterilised jar (it makes about 200g), then cover, store in the fridge and use within 3 days. Serve the pulp like a jam, spread on toast, or stir a spoonful into natural yogurt and serve with homemade granola. Alternatively, serve the rhubarb pulp with freshly baked scones and clotted cream.