You’re looking at my very first rhubarb harvest of the season! Can you believe that just three weeks ago, it looked like this? Needless to say, it was a long awaited event to bring in the first bunch of pretty pink stalks of rhubarb.
Rhubarb is ready to harvest as soon as the stalks have grown to full length (usually around 10-12 inches long, depending on the variety), so those first few stalks to emerge last month were definitely ready to come out and make way for all the new growth that continues to come in behind them. Over the years I’ve noticed that those early stalks can get quite thick – they’re not quite as good for baking and cooking as the more slender, tender growth that follows, but they still have that delicious rhubarb flavor, so they are perfect for an infusion.
Infusions are a win-win: they’re super easy and you end up with a delicious, often out of the ordinary product. From garden to jar, the total prep time for this batch was about 20 minutes. There really are no measurements to follow; you can adjust it according to the size of your jar (or jars) and the rhubarb you have on hand, so go ahead and make a small batch to try it out, or make gallons of it for a special event (in this particular batch, I used seven large stalks of rhubarb divided into three pint jars). The hardest part is waiting for the infusion to be completed.
Rhubarb Infused Vodka
Rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cleaned
Vodka, any brand
Glass jar(s) and lid(s), sterilized
Chop the rhubarb stalks into half inch pieces and put into a food processor. Pulse a few times for a rough chop (the pieces do not have to be uniform, you just want to expose more surface area). Fill jar(s) about 3/4 full of the chopped rhubarb, including any juices that may be in the food processor (medium-firm pack). Add enough vodka to cover the rhubarb, plus one inch. Cover tightly and shake. Let rhubarb sit for 2 weeks in a cool location out of direct sunlight, shaking the jar occasionally. After this time strain out the rhubarb pieces (they will be colorless at this point) and filter the vodka through a coffee filter until you achieve a clear product. It will range in color from peach to pink, depending on the variety of rhubarb used.
Stay tuned for Rhubarb Happy Hour, part two: Rhubarb Liqueur!