Monday, 2 December 2013

Rhubarb Champagne





I love to watch  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the TV show "River cottage".
In one of the episodes I saw a long time ago they were preparing for a  party and they decided to make Rhubarb Champagne. It really caught my fancy ,and I decided there and then that I would certainly try it one day.
I have been unable to track down the original recipe but found one  on a forum for self sufficiency that I belong to that was very similiar in ingredients and method from what I could recall.
As our rhubarb is flourishing, I made one batch about three or four weeks ago, and decided to do another as to have a good supply  over the Christmas Holidays.
We picked the rhubarb ,removed the leaves and washed and trimmed the stems.We then cut it up into small pieces.I made a double batch , which was 1.6 kgs chopped rhubarb.

The recipe said to slightly squash the rhubarb with a rolling pin to bruise it to release the juices(or  alternatively freeze the chopped rhubarb overnight and thaw as this releases juices as well)The first batch I bruised  and the second I froze so I could compare.

Next  I  added 1.2 Kgs of white sugar and  330 mls of white wine vinegar.
The recipe   then calls for  2 cut up lemons with the pips removed. I had no lemons so used bottled lemon juice to equal roughly the same amount.
You then add 9 litres of water and place altogether in a big plastic tub or stainless steel pot, mix until the sugar dissolves completely, cover with a clean cloth and set aside in a cool place for about 3 days,I gave it a good stir and a smash with a potato masher each day just to break down the rhubarb.
After the 3 days, I then removed all the rhubarb pulp, squeezing it hard to extract the final  beautiful pink juice.(I then composted the remaining pulp)
I then strained it through a double layer of muslin to remove any lingering  rhubarb pulp.
What a glorious colored liquid it produced, I just adore it.
Next the bottles have to be filled, I had collected plastic bottles with screw caps as I have had explosions in the past from ginger beer in glass bottles and have learnt my lesson painfully.
Because I had made the previous batch, I hadn't saved enough plastic bottles and fell short. I had three glass bottles with ceramic stoppers and  wire bales on them,so  decided to go ahead and use them, but not doing the caps up and  placing a  pin pricked balloon on the top instead of a cap.(I had read about this on  one of  the canning sites that I belong to)It will be interesting to see if this method works.
Once capped these bottles are then kept in a cool dark  spot for about 4 weeks.You may need to gently release the gas from time to time as it builds up.
I keep them in this plastic tub  so that if the plastic bottles  do  rupture from the pressure as least some of it will be contained.
Our first batch has been sitting for about 3 weeks, so we decided to  give it a little try.
Happy hour has definately  hit a high note at our place this week,this was  so lovely.
A delicate soft pink ,lightly bubbly ,mildly alcoholic jewel in a glass.
It has a lovely  gentle rhubarb taste(as you would expect) but not over powering.
The second batch was bottled  four days ago and I have already had to start releasing gas as this lot is bubbling frantically, it appears to be a much stronger batch  at this point.
My daughter is coming to visit this week so I will get her  opinion on my little experiment.She has the Apple Pie Moonshine  and this  to sample.
I think it will be a lovely summertime drink to have  in the Christmas holidays, Brian  tried it and said it wasn't bad(that means quite good). Although he did look quite  funny with a  pink flute in hand instead of his normal beer or red wine..
So, until we meet again,  to everyone  a happy goodnight.
Cheers,
Jane




10 comments:

  1. I just might have to try this Jane. The second batch was the one you froze is that right? Looks very pretty:)

    Mel

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Mel,
      Sorry if you got a reply addressed to Tania, as I got two messages mixed up in my head. Yes it was the second batch that I froze
      , already is working way much better by the looks of it.The original info said that you can use any fruit but the riper it is the more you reduce the amount of sugar by,due to the extremely explosive nature of the mix.. I might try mango after Christmas when they are cheaper.
      Catch you again one day,
      Cheers
      Jane.

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  2. it is such a pretty color, this is the first I have heard of making a juice from rhubarb. I am inspired to seek out some starts for my garden!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pink,
      Thanks for stopping by, I too will try other fruits in due course, Hope to find some treasures in my garden too. Good luck,
      Cheers
      Jane

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  3. My batch is bottled and on the countertop. I made a double batch of your recipe so there is lots :) How long do the bottles have to sit with the balloon on top?? Until no more gas is being expelled? They do look pretty!!!

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    Replies
    1. hello and thanks for visiting. I too am not sure how long the balloons have to stay on, they were truly experimental,I have three like that so I might do different things with each one just to see how it all goes. All the best with yours !
      Cheers
      Jane.

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  4. this Spring I got in two rhubarb plants!

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    1. Just saw this comment Pink, sorry i mised it. You will never be sorry that you planted rhubarb, soo good.
      Cheers,
      Jane.

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  5. Hi Jane, if you make a big batch, how long can you keep it for? Do you have to put them in the fridge when they are 'ready'? Can't wait to try this! Looks really good!

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  6. I am so sorry I never got back to you, I totally missed your question in the madness that has been the last few weeks.
    I usually make about 6 or 7 bottles at a time and when ready put a couple at a time into tge frudge, I rarely have gad to keep any long term, as it got drank too fast.
    Cheers,
    Jane

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