Rhubarb Syrup

As a child I didn’t like rhubarb, but there came a point when the flavour started to grow on me, even if the texture of the conventional stewed stalk didn’t. Some years ago I thought it would be great to create a syrup from the plant that took advantage of the flavour.

Well, I finally got around to that this year.

The syrup I created has a wonderful depth of flavour and a sharp tart note that lends it a fantastic zing! Use it as an ice cream topping, over pancakes, in milkshakes or cocktails. The most surprisingly wonderful use we’ve found is as a finisher for our home-brewed kombucha.

This is not a recipe in the conventional sense: few people buy rhubarb, and the harvest can be unpredictable. Also, the basic recipe only has two ingredients, so this recipe just uses relative quantities.

The ingredients in grey are all optional: use all of them, use some of them, or use none of them; but if you’re adding spices, just make sure you use them whole (chunks for nutmeg) rather than ground. Obviously you can use the seeds from a vanilla pod for one recipe, and use the pod for this one, although you could add a few drops of essence if you like.

As a syrup, this is mostly just sugar, so it will last for a couple of years in the fridge… the bigger risk is someone guzzling it down!


Rhubarb Syrup Banner


  • Rhubarb stalks
  • White sugar
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Star anise
  • Vanilla



  1. Clean the rhubarb thoroughly, then chop, placing them either in a large pot, or your crock pot insert
  2. Add enough sugar to cover the rhubarb (this is a syrup: don’t be shy with the sugar!)
  3. Cover and leave to macerate for at least 12 hours
  4. Add spices according to your preference
  5. Place on a low heat with the lid on and allow to stew slowly until the rhubarb breaks down (2-4 hours)
  6. Strain, and return the liquid to an appropriately-size pot
  7. Bring the liquid to a higher heat, a little below the boil and allow it to reduce to about 50% of its original volume
  8. Allow the syrup to cool without a lid, then refrigerate.

Click here for a pdf version of this recipe.


About trevar

Trevar Alan Chilver is a playwright based in Canberra, Australia. His work includes film scripts and his plays have been produced as mainstage productions and for festivals such as Short Sweet. He is an avid supporter of the theatre community in Canberra, and also writes for Australian Stage and the Canberra Times and blogs regularly. Trevar has directed productions for a number of local companies, and occasionally treads the boards himself.
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