We tend to have a surplus of rhubarb in summer, so we have started making cordial. This concentrated syrup goes well with soda water and ice, but adding a touch of vodka makes the grown-ups happy (and sleepy). Start this recipe a day ahead.




Skill level

Average: 4.1 (8 votes)


  • 1 bunch (about 800g) rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3cm lengths
  • 605 g (2¾ cups) caster sugar
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 2 tbs citric acid (see Note)
  • soda water or tonic water, and ice-cubes, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Place rhubarb in a large bowl or stockpot. Add 1 litre water, sugar, squeeze in lemon juice and add the lemon halves. Pour over 1 litre boiling water and stir to dissolve sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 24 hours.

Strain cordial into another bowl or jug and whisk in citric acid. (I keep the spent rhubarb to use in desserts, but remember, it’s only a shadow of its former self; the whole point has been to extract most of the flavour from the rhubarb.)

Pour rhubarb cordial into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge for up to 1 month; it’s time to dispose of it when the lid starts to pop as you open the bottle, which means the cordial is beginning to ferment.

Serve cordial with soda or tonic water over ice cubes. Use the cordial to taste, but work on about 1 part cordial to about 3 parts soda or tonic water.



Citric acid is available from supermarkets.


Photography by Alan Benson.


As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.