Last Updated on May 16, 2022
Rhubarb juice is a deliciously tart drink made from fresh or frozen rhubarb that can be used in numerous ways. This rhubarb juice recipe makes use of both the liquid and the cooked rhubarb to minimize waste and maximize rhubarb deliciousness, no juicer required!
WHY MAKE RHUBARB JUICE?
My love affair with rhubarb has been going on for some time now. I can date it to a dehydrating workshop over a decade ago, when dehydrating expert Mary Bell passed around samples of a homemade fruit leather she called rhubarb lace. I was blown away by the flavor and joined the rhubarb fan club right then and there.
Soon after, I got my hands on my very first rhubarb divisions, which I’ve now re-divided into 8 lovely rhubarb plants that thrive in our tiny 1/10 acre corner lot. The vast majority of rhubarb picked from these beloved plants have been turned into the rhubarb leather I adapted from Mary Bell’s original recipe.
Some has also become rhubarb crisp or rhubarb sauce or gone into some of the other delicious uses for rhubarb, but most of it heads to the dehydrator to become beautiful rounds of tart-sweet rhubarb leather.
You can get my recipe for homemade fruit leather made from rhubarb and taste for yourself what all the fuss is about.
But rhubarb juice, that was something I didn’t fully appreciate for many years. I would cook up huge pots of rhubarb for leather-making, and the leftover cooking liquid mostly got poured down the drain.
It was a gorgeous pink color but VERY tart, so as someone determined to avoid wasting anything in the kitchen (see these root to stem recipes for proof!) I started to wonder what else could be done with it.
I love refreshing tart drinks on hot days, so I started saving a little of my rhubarb juice to add to my homemade seltzer. Rhubarb spritzer turns out to be a delicious thirst-quenching drink!
(If you’re still buying bottles or cans of fizzy water, I beg you to stop. One of these easy-to-use little home soda makers will save you so much money and keep so much plastic out of the waste stream. Here’s more on why and how to go zero waste.)
But try as I might, I couldn’t drink enough sparkling rhubarb soda to warrant keeping the many quarts of juice leftover from a big batch of rhubarb leather.
But when my 6-year-old decided she wanted to try running a lemonade stand right after we’d made fruit leather, I gave her a few quarts of rhubarb juice to add to her lemonade as a second option.
The sign she made before she opened her stand suggested she, too, underestimated the value of rhubarb juice:
I eventually persuaded her to price the rhubarb-added drink the same as plain lemonade, and she begrudgingly made a new sign.
Much to her surprise, most folks stopping at her stand for a cool drink opted for the rhubarb lemonade, even without a discount!
She considered upping the price of the pretty pink rhubarb lemonade when customer after customer asked for it.
Live and learn 🙂
TWO RHUBARB RECIPES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
I love that rhubarb juice is basically a freebie you get when you’re making something else. Who doesn’t like free, right?
Most recipes for rhubarb juice have you strain and throw away the rhubarb, but this boggles my mind. Why on earth would you want to waste all that yummy food??
This rhubarb juice recipe makes TWO delicious rhubarb concoctions, rhubarb leather or sauce AND rhubarb juice. Two for the price of one!
(Except you can totally get your rhubarb for free. Even if you’re not growing it, there’s very likely someone nearby who hasn’t realized how awesome the rhubarb growing in their garden is. When someone on one of my neighborhood lists asks if anyone has some, they always get numerous offers of rhubarb.)
If you don’t want to make rhubarb fruit leather, you can make a simple rhubarb compote or rhubarb sauce, but do make use of that yummy rhubarb!
IS RHUBARB JUICE GOOD FOR YOU?
Like hibiscus tea, this sour drink can be rough on your teeth, so if you plan to drink a lot of it, use a straw and rinse well with water afterward.
Also, it’s important to understand that rhubarb leaves contain toxic amounts of oxalates and we don’t eat them. Stick to the stalks only, and be sure leaves are completely removed before making rhubarb juice or other recipes.
IS RHUBARB JUICE PALEO?
Yep, since rhubarb juice is nothing more than a vegetable and some water, it’s very much paleo. If you make a rhubarb drink that needs sweetener, just be sure to pick your favorite paleo-friendly sweetener.
But do try a splash in plain seltzer before sweetening. It’s really fantastic on its own!
CAN YOU MAKE RHUBARB JUICE WITH FROZEN RHUBARB?
Yes, frozen rhubarb can work for making rhubarb juice. When you defrost your rhubarb, much of the liquid will release on its own. The defrosted rhubarb will take up less space in the pot, so you’ll naturally add less water.
Juice from frozen rhubarb may be a little more concentrated than when made with fresh rhubarb. The color may also be deeper, but the taste is pretty much the same. Since you’re diluting it to taste anyway, it doesn’t matter much how concentrated it is.
Here’s what you need to know about how to freeze rhubarb.
WHAT TO DO WITH RHUBARB JUICE
First off, don’t drink this stuff straight. It’s SOOOOOO tart! If you really like tart drinks, you could dilute your rhubarb juice with water, but unsweetened rhubarb drinks aren’t for everyone. Add a little stevia or honey, serve over ice, and this simple rhubarb drink could work.
A splash of rhubarb juice in seltzer, however, is an entirely different thing. This sparkling and beautiful homemade soda is delicious and refreshing even without added sweetener. Add a little or a lot, according to your taste.
You can make loads more rhubarb drinks by using this rhubarb juice as a mixer. Try it with seltzer and vodka as a cocktail, or add a splash to your favorite iced tea. I haven’t tried, but I bet it would be amazing in a margarita or daiquiri.
Or put some rhubarb juice in lemonade and your lemonade stand will be the most popular in town!
Freeze any leftovers from your lemonade stand in popsicle molds, and you’ll have easy rhubarb lemonade pops. Yum!
SOURCING RHUBARB FOR RHUBARB JUICE
Now that you’re keen to make lots of rhubarb juice this season, you of course need lots of rhubarb. You may find some at the farmers’ market or grocery store, but you can likely get some for free from a friend or neighbor. But once you’ve come to appreciate the awesomeness of rhubarb for juice, rhubarb leather, and rhubarb crisp, you’re going to want to grow your own to keep you in rhubarb!
Once you have a bumper crop of rhubarb, you’ll have plenty of this delicious ingredient to experiment with in all other sorts of recipes. Here’s my ever-growing collection of delicious healthy rhubarb recipes from around the blogosphere.
If you’re always looking for ways to avoid waste, you might be tempted to do something with rhubarb’s bountiful leaves. DON’T! Rhubarb leaves contain compounds that can make us very ill. To find out more, read ‘Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous?‘ and learn some ways you can use them in the garden instead.
HOW TO MAKE RHUBARB JUICE
Making rhubarb juice is a snap, no juicer required. Hot water extracts the yummy rhubarb flavor, so cooking time is minimal.
You simply need to chop your rhubarb, cover it with boiling water, wait, and drain. So easy!
And because we’re not simmering our rhubarb on the stove, we save energy and keep from adding more heat to the house in summer.
This rhubarb juice recipe is
- A bright mix-in for drinks of all sorts, alcoholic and otherwise
- Low in carbs and calories
- Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Easy-peasy (only 2 ingredients, no juicer or special equipment needed)
- A two-fer: you get both rhubarb juice and rhubarb sauce, leather, or another rhubarb treat
Plus it’s utterly gorgeous! Your friends will be so impressed when you serve them this unusual drink made from a garden vegetable.
- 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
- 4 cups filtered water, or enough to cover
- Be sure all leaves are completely removed from your rhubarb stalks.
- Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and place in a large stockpot.
- Cover with boiled filtered water, put the lid on the pot, and return to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. You can also heat cold water in the pot, bringing to a boil and turning off the heat.
- Let rhubarb sit in hot water for about an hour, when it should become soft.
- Drain the liquid, reserving the remaining rhubarb for other recipes, like fruit leather or rhubarb sauce (see links to recipes above).
- Once cooled, use your rhubarb juice as a soda or drink mix in, or serve diluted in water over ice. Sweeten if desired.
Stores in the refrigerator about 1 week. Use or freeze before then.
How do you like your rhubarb juice? Please share in the comments!
Pin to save this rhubarb juice recipe for later!
Additional rhubarb juice recipe photo credit (in pin): Kati Finell
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.