A by-product of any rhubarb cooked over the stove is the shocking pink syrup I wrote about last year. Here’s my new batch, making friends with two kinds of pickled plums and some pickled ginger in my refrigerator. Hullo there!
The problem is that most of the rhubarb that flourishes here in the Willamette Valley is the green-stalked Victoria rhubarb (below). When mixed with June strawberries, there’s no problem with color, but bright green rhubarb pie or crumble seems a little, well, less festive.
So if you can, grab up or pick hefty red rhubarb stalks when you see them. I bought mine at Groundworks Organics at the farmer’s market last week, and made some syrup with vanilla sugar we made at our OSU Extension Master Food Preservers ‘Gifts in a Jar’ class last winter. Just before pouring the sweet and sour concoction into a jar to cool, I swished a few rose geranium leaves in the syrup for an unusual flavor.
My problem is that I can’t stop eating my rose geranium-vanilla rhubarb syrup on ice cream. I want to use it for crisp gin cocktails with a garnish of rose geranium flower. Or maybe to spice up a fresh strawberry fruit salad. Or maybe to drizzle over some sour cherry claufoutis. Will it last, though?
Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.
Now’s the bat time, by the way, to start shopping for scented geraniums. I fell in love with the classic variety ‘Attar of Rose’ last year, but all my geraniums — peppermint, lemon balm, cinnamon, rose — died in the freeze. The geranium lady at the market told me she lost most of hers, as well. Even ones that were 10 years old. A shame.
Rose geraniums make a wonderful simple syrup on their own, without rhubarb. I seem to recall I made a simple syrup last year with local Pinot Gris and rose geranium. If you can bring out complementary flavors in your chosen wine with the rose, all the better. Other ideas? You might try submerging a few leaves in a quart of sugar to make rose-scented sugar for baking, or even make a pound cake with the leaves imprinted on the top of the cake.
We’re pretty sure that my friend’s Greek grandma floated whole leaves on top of her summer jelly. I wonder if you could substitute rose geranium for roses in other kinds of jams, as well. I guess I’ll have the entire summer to find out!