Rhubarb Italian Sodas

Cooked up on June 18, 2012

Filed under: drinks, garden, six ingredients or less, snack, under 1 hour, vegetarian

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This weekend I made something that changed my life: rhubarb syrup. It tastes like … candy. That’s the only way to describe it I think. Like if Jolly Ranchers were made with real rhubarb. I think it’s the combination of the rhubarb tang that you just don’t get as much of with cherries or strawberries.

Initially I was thinking I would make a rhubarb cocktail (and I will), but Dave had the idea to make it into an Italian soda, and I am so glad we did! This drink is so sweet, pleasant and bubbly… it just made me happy. Also, it’s pink. I have to admit that adds a lot to the charm.

Actually, our rhubarb plant doesn’t ever turn all the way pink (depends on the type of plant I believe). So I was a little concerned that the syrup wouldn’t be very pink. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about!

Holy cow, rhubarb is beautiful, isn’t it? I love taking photos of produce.

My family in Minnesota owns a small farm, and my aunt, uncle and nephew live there right now. It’s got an adorable little farmhouse and a few outbuildings, and I haven’t been there in a few years. But whenever we make stuff with rhubarb I think of that place.

Before my aunt and uncle, my great grandmother lived there. My great grandfather, my grandfather and a few other family members owned a well-drilling business that they ran off of that property. And long after that business was no longer around I remember going to visit my great grandmother there. And I remember that she had rhubarb plants, and my mom was always eager to take some home. I totally didn’t get it.

Well, now that I have my own plant, I totally understand why.

Here’s what you need to make the rhubarb syrup:

  •  1 lb. rhubarb – I think this was about 10-12 stalks for us
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Wash the rhubarb thoroughly and chop it into 1/2 inch pieces. Place everything in a saucepan and boil until the rhubarb is very, very soft – pretty much a mush, also known as compote.

After you’re done cooking the rhubarb, strain the rhubarb pieces out of the liquid. Save the solids – this is your compote, and you can serve it over vanilla ice cream later.

Put the liquids back in the saucepan and reduce by about half on a slow simmer – this might take a while and it’s not totally necessary. I just like a strong syrup. Store in a glass container – allow it to cool COMPLETELY before putting it in the fridge or you will have a cracked glass jar on your hands.

To make the Italian soda, you will also need:

  • about 14 oz. carbonated water
  • 1 oz. cream
  • plenty of ice

Non-sponsored recommendation: the Sodastream craze is no joke – get one. Especially if you happen to enjoy cool, refreshing and carbonated summer beverages. Also great for making cocktails on the fly.

First, fill your tumblers with plenty of ice, and then slowly pour the carbonated water over them. Next, add about 1 oz. of rhubarb syrup to each glass and allow it to settle at the bottom for maximum prettiness.

Then, add 1 oz. cream to the top by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Marvel at how pretty your drink is, and then stir it all together before consuming.

This drink was so good, I am already plotting the next time I can make more syrup. It is so delicious! Tangy and sweet… I just can’t get enough.



  1. This looks absolutely wonderful! I loved Italian sodas growing up, but haven’t had one in forever because of the HFCS that’s usually found in them. I’d rather make a rhubarb one at home – yum!

    Comment by Geanna — June 18, 2012 @ 9:14 am

  2. This is fantastic! You’re getting so creative with your garden’s goodies. Can’t wait to see what the cocktail might be.

    Comment by MaryK — June 18, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  3. Oh, dear! I have too many rhubarb recipes and I’m not living by my rhubarb supply anymore! Looks awesome, though; I hope I get to try it this summer! Have you ever just eaten it raw with sugar? My dad taught me to eat it that way growing up. :o) Ah, memories…

    Comment by Rachael — June 21, 2012 @ 9:36 am

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