I almost passed them over during the purge of my chest freezer last week: a bag of greyish-coloured chopped rhubarb and a solid lump of last year’s raspberries.
The fruits were encrusted with a layer of ice and most likely freezer burnt. I nearly tossed them in the bin, along with the other unwanted items from the recesses of my deep freezer, but I hesitated. Sure they were not as appealing as the fresh new rhubarb stalks that are pushing up in my garden, but what if I cooked them down for their juice? It was worth a shot.
Together with sugar, water and a splash of lemon juice, I simmered the rhubarb and the raspberries in a pot while I finished emptying my freezer. It wasn’t long before the concoction began to emit the intoxicating smell of raspberry-rhubarb pie, or something very similar. My taste-buds watered and I dipped a spoon in for a sample: tangy and sweet, it tasted of spring even after a year in hibernation.
I strained the bright red syrup through a coffee filter to keep it clear and stashed it away to cool. Obviously it would make a terrific base for a celebratory Mother’s Day sip, something along the lines of a Raspberry-Rhubarb Collins Party Punch.
Whether you are brunching, lunching or picnicking on Mother’s Day, the occasion needs a special drink, particularly one with free refills. The elements for this Raspberry-Rhubarb Collins can be prepared in advance and kept chilled.
If you are the mum being celebrated, I recommend simply writing or printing up the mixing directions and handing them off to the nearest set of capable hands on Sunday. Then sit back and enjoy the afternoon – and your party punch.
Now that drinks are taken care of, why not try my Honey Whole-Wheat Strawberry Shortcakes to keep in the berry theme and make the day truly memorable? They are still one of my favourite desserts for Mother’s Day – or any day come spring.
The fruit syrup replaces the sugar in a traditional Tom Collins drink; gin and soda water round out the punch. I’ve chosen to use lime juice instead of the usual lemon wedge, which pairs well with the hint of raspberry. Cheers!
|Raspberry-Rhubarb Collins Party Punch|| || |
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1 cup raw cane sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cups gin
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 litre soda water
- 3 cups ice
- 1 lime, sliced for garnish
- 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced for garnish (optional)
- Place rhubarb and raspberries in a large pot. Pour in sugar and lemon juice. Top with 2 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not stir. Turn off heat and allow to infuse for an additional 20 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve lined with a clean tea towel, coffee filter or cheesecloth. Cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
- To mix the punch, combine 2 cups raspberry-rhubarb syrup, gin, and fresh lime juice in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Pour in the soda water and tip in the ice. Add sliced lime and rhubarb and stir to combine.
- Taste the punch and adjust to suit your liking. Tip in more rhubarb syrup if you like a sweeter punch. Serve well chilled.
Final thought: cleaning out one’s freezer leads to delicious results!
Cleaning and organizing your freezer should be a semi-annual occurrence at minimum, and de-icing your freezer will make it run more efficiently. Your freezer coils are embedded within the walls of the unit, and a thin (or thick) layer of ice between them and your food actually acts as an insulator and prevents your freezer from effectively cooling your newly inserted food.
I’ve taken care of the stray black bananas, used the random bags of bones and served up every homemade frozen dinner I had previously stashed. I’m ready to put away spring produce, like these 4 simple methods for freezing strawberries and other favourites. Let the berry season begin!
Are you host or guest on Mother’s Day?