While home grown orange juice is out of the question for us self-reliant homesteaders in most of North America, home grown rhubarb juice isn’t. In our book, The Self-Sufficient Backyard: For the Independent Homesteader, we write about rhubarb and rhubarb juice and the role it plays in our plan for self-reliance. Chilled rhubarb juice mixed in equal parts with ginger ale (homemade or store bought), makes a punch that is a perfect thirst quencher when you come in from sweating in the garden. Let’s talk home grown rhubarb juice for more self-reliance.
Making Rhubarb Juice
Before you can make juice you first need rhubarb. See post “Rhubarb for the Self-Reliant Homestead” for info on growing your own. Or you can buy stalks from a farmer’s market, the supermarket, get surplus from a gardening neighbor who is desperate to get rid of some or perhaps pick some from long neglected plants on an old abandoned farmstead (with owner’s permission of course). That’s how we acquired our first stalks decades ago back when neither of us was familiar with rhubarb. We had never had rhubarb before and wanted to be sure we liked it before we tried growing it.
1. Once you have your stalks, trim the leaves off if they’re still attached and throw the leaves on to the compost pile. Rhubarb leaves are toxic and should never be eaten.
2. Wash the stalks and cut them up into about ½” chunks. Throw them in a kettle and add water to cover.
3. Simmer till soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Strain through a damp bag. Because I do a large quantity, a standard jelly bag isn’t going to cut it, so I use a large bag I made out of utility muslin. You could also use a pillow case but be aware the juice will stain the fabric.
5. After tying up the opening of the bag, I hang it from a hook Ron put in the kitchen ceiling and let the juice drip into a large bowl. When the bag and its contents have cooled enough to handle, Ron squeezes the bag by hand for a greater yield.
6. Next I measure the juice and return it to the kettle, adding ¼ cup sugar for each 4 cups of juice.
7. I then reheat the juice and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Rhubarb is canned in a boiling water bath but the jars need to be scalded first to sterilize them as the processing time is only 10 minutes.
8. I always use quart jars for this product. So I scald my quart jars, then fill them with simmering juice leaving ½” of headroom and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Using Rhubarb Juice
To make a delicious “mixed” drink, which we’ve dubbed Rhubarb Cooler, chill the rhubarb juice and ginger ale. If desired, to each quart jar of rhubarb juice add 1 teaspoon of orange extract and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Then mix equal parts of ginger ale and rhubarb juice for a real homegrown thirst quencher on a hot summer day. The rhubarb cooler is especially good if it’s mixed with homemade ginger ale but store bought ginger ale works well too. Enjoy!
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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