Five years (original article published February 2013) on I’ve updated this article to go with the video I’ve just filmed for YouTube. If you like the video please subscribe!
What is the difference between forced rhubarb and normal rhubarb?
Sunlight. Normal rhubarb has a standard outdoorsy lifestyle; fresh air, rain and sunlight. Forced rhubarb on other hand is quite literally kept in the dark.
Commercially its grown in sheds. When I was growing up in West Wales we had huge clay pots over the rhubarb, complete with a viewing hole in the top which would be covered with a slate.
This absence of sunlight stops the rhubarb from producing chlorophyll, which gives plants the green colour we are so used to. Without this pigment rhubarbs true colours shine, and they’re magnificent. A deep reddish, pink.
The majority of our rhubarb still comes from an area called ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ in West Yorkshire. Once upon time 90% of the worlds forced rhubarb came from here, it even had its own nightly train to London. The crop is still picked by hand and amazingly its picked by candlelight!
You can make this recipe throughout the year using normal rhubarb, but the green pigment in the chlorophyll mixes with the red to produce a slightly unattractive brownish hue
Roughly chop your rhubarb and add to a glass jar until its at least half full.
For every 500 grams of rhubarb you want to add at least 150 grams of sugar. The sugar helps draw the flavour out of the fruit. When bottling the finished product you can always add a bit more to taste.
After adding the sugar you can now add any flavourings you choose. Bay leaves, cloves, a cinnamon stick, star anise or lemon zest. If adding lemon zest be sure to remove the white pith, it’s incredibly bitter.
I suggest keeping it simple, you don’t want to over complicate it. I personally just add lemon zest and leave it at that.
Top up with cheap vodka and put the lid on. Keep it in a dark place (sunlight breaks the colour down)
Shake each day until the sugar is dissolved. After a week it should be ready. Strain into bottles and add sugar if it needs it.
UPDATE: Pictures from the new batch can be seen amongst the jars of Plum Rum here:
You can also see a few jars on the facebook page, which I highly recommend following!