Some time ago I started producing some fruit juice for the simple reason our parent’s garden produced so many apples and plums we simply could not eat all of them. I gave them away to friends and baked cake; I started trying various cooking recipes that included apples. But I still was left with hundreds of tasty apples. So I started to juice them.
Now, spring is not the time of year where I am drowning in apples (and unfortunately that old apple tree died some years back). But since it is spring some other fruits start producing fresh fruit right now. And my stocks of homemade fruit juice are almost gone.
After tasting some homemade fruit juice, I can never again take the processed one from the shop seriously. Here in Germany, some standard fruit juice says it is made from concentrate. And compared to homemade fruit juice, it tastes just like that: like some juice processed and diluted, losing taste at every step of that process.
So, over the past years, we (me, my mother and Marina) started to make more and more of our own fruit juice. It’s not always pure fruit; I like to experiment with spices, especially for fruit juice that I drink hot in winter. We are going to cover the tips and tricks for various fruits and flavours on this blog, as the year goes on and more fruit will be ready for harvesting and juicing. And, believe me, even if you do not have your own garden, there is so much fruit out there you can use. Ask some garden owners, most of them have more than they can handle and will willingly part with some fruit in exchange for some help… or visit a local market, often when the local farmers are drowning in fruits of the season, they give it away in large quantities for very little money.
My mother and I opened this year’s fruit juice season with Rhubarb.
Rhubarb is packed with all the good stuff including dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. This much healthy benefits do not come with a ton of calories: rhubarb is one of the least calorie vegetables – yes from a botanical point of view rhubarb is not a fruit at all…
Plus, rhubarb includes so much natural taste that you can easily mix the juice with plenty of water, and it still tastes great. Which makes it a perfect drink for filling up your hydration reservoirs after workouts or spending a hot day outside in the sun.
Sidenote: Do not eat the leaves of rhubarb, they are supposed to be poisonous!
I am actually not such a huge fan of rhubarb. I like it in exactly two forms: as a drink or as a cake with an egg white meringue crust (Reminder to self: will have to add a recipe for rhubarb cake, the recipe also tastes great with gooseberries).
I am not overly fond of compote although rhubarb compote with vanilla sauce has a long tradition in Germany. Another way for of using rhubarb in traditional German cooking is red fruit jelly – again either with cream or vanilla sauce. I also tried a rhubarb chutney which was not really to my taste either.
So I stick to rhubarb cake and juice 🙂
My mother made her rhubarb juice without the lemon, but I rather like the added flavor. (I am fairly sure that Marina is going to make some rhubarb syrup and will share her recipe with you, too).
My recipe for approximately 1l of rhubarb juice
0.5 kg of rhubarb stalks
Juice of one lemon
Some brown sugar (white sugar is ok, but the color and taste are better with brown sugar). Sweeten as you like it. I rather go four sour drinks.
Wash the rhubarb, cut off the leafy tops and if necessary the bottom part of the stalks. Cut to pieces. Put water, lemon juice, and rhubarb into a pot and cook until the rhubarb falls to pieces, sweeten until you like the mix of sweet and sour.
Put a sieve over a large pot and pour the fruit in, wait until all liquid is in the pot and only the rhubarb mass in the sieve. You now have beautifully pink rhubarb juice.
When you drink it, you can dilute this with more cold water, it tastes especially refreshing in sparkling water. You can also try this with champagne or prosecco.
If you make a large quantity of fruit juice and want to keep it for drinking later, you can easily do that by heating up the finished juice to boiling, fill the hot liquid into bottles that close well. Bottles with twist off lids work well. Close the bottles and lay them flat on a towel. If fluid comes out, the bottles do not close well enough, and the juice will go bad after a few days. Laying them flat while they are still hot also helps to preserve them better.
(You do not need to throw away the rhubarb mass. Eat it with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream, use it to freshen up your breakfast cereals or use to make compote).