Rhubarb isn’t just for cakes, pies, muffins or straight-up stewed sweetened sauce in a dish any more. It also makes a delightful syrup. Credit: Sandy Oliver

Rhubarb isn’t just for cakes, pies, muffins or straight-up stewed sweetened sauce in a dish anymore. Let’s hear it for imbibing the stuff.

A few years ago, I shared a rhubarb cordial here: rhubarb pieces in a jar, covered with vodka and soaked for a couple weeks until the vodka turned pink, after which the liquid was strained and simple syrup was added to taste.

Rhubarb lovers enjoyed it straight up in a cordial glass, or added to soda or seltzer. If I were an accomplished bartender, I suppose I would have found some interesting way to incorporate it into a cocktail.

This recipe for a spiced sweet syrup enhances seltzer, white wine or Prosecco. It’s a tart, slightly spiced mix and also creates an ideal alternative to an alcoholic beverage.

Then there is the pour-over-ice cream possibility, or add to sorbet mix before freezing, say for a strawberry or lemon sorbet.

I discovered this buried in my “try these” recipe files, scrawled on a scrap of paper; who knows where I found it to begin with. As usual, it is also exasperatingly vague on a couple of points, but I am pretty sure we cut the rhubarb into fairly short pieces, about an inch in order to get them to juice up. Also, ground cardamom leaves little grains in the syrup, so whole seeds are better, and lemon juice is pretty good, but adding lemon zest boosts the flavor even more.

A taste-a-thon here revealed this: we liked it best here in a rose wine and seltzer cooler.

Refreshing and delicious. Second best added to taste to seltzer (club soda). We didn’t try it in Prosecco, but you could.

Rhubarb Cardamom and Lemon Syrup

Yields 3 cups

1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3 teaspoons decorticated cardamom seeds

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Juice and zest of one lemon

Combine in a heavy saucepan the rhubarb, cardamom, and sugar, stirring so that the rhubarb is covered in sugar.

Let stand for an hour or two until the sugar is sticky and you can see a little dissolving begin.

Add the water and bring to a steady simmer, and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the rhubarb is cooked apart.

Add the lemon zest and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and strain through a fine sieve.

The syrup will be thin. Taste and adjust for sweetness by adding a little more sugar if desired, returning it to the heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Store refrigerated.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...