Recipe: How To Make Rhubarb & Cardamom Cordial

Our rhubarb plant is basically part of the family. My parents have moved house with it three times, and it does it’s very best to take over the little corner of the vegetable plot dedicated to it every summer. It’s sharp, pink tinged stalks are destined for any number of crumbles, my Mum’s delicious rhubarb and vanilla jam, and my parents wonderful rhubarb wine – perfect for an aperitif and very similar to a French rose.

This year we had our first success with forcing the rhubarb over an upturned black plastic bin. I made a few cocktail syrups, but those pretty pink stems of joy were best used to make beautiful forced rhubarb tarts and Gem’s easy rhubarb pickles.

English Rhubarb Crown
Vegetable Plot

Unlike most cordials you’ll see in winter when those beautiful candy pink stems are available, this cordial is for the English stuff. Big green stalks available in the height of summer with just a hint of deep red at the base. You can of course use forced rhubarb for this recipe, but it can be expensive – this cordial is designed to use up some of the summer glut over ice, topped up with sparkling water and possibly enhanced with a generous glug of gin.

I’m a big cordial, syrup (like my super popular Easy Mint Mojito Syrup) and shrub (like my Pineapple Shrub) person. While I drink an awful lot of water and tea (green with jasmine in the mornings, peppermint in the afternoons) rather than juice, I sometimes want something a little sweet, especially on a sunny afternoon.

Cardamom is a pretty contentious flavour around these parts. For me, it is my hands down number one favourite spice, but the rest of my family have, shall we say, mixed feelings on the subject. My Dad loathes it. My Mum believes that it has it’s place (and that place is not in most of the recipes I utilise it in) and J accepts that while it exists in most of the curries he enjoys like my Lamb & Green Chilli Curry with Pineapple Pickle Salad, he does not actually want to taste cardamom by itself. At all. 

But me? This gently perfumed and spiced rhubarb cordial is the dream.

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Rhubarb & Cardamom Cordial

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes (plus cooling time)
  • Yield: Makes approx. 350ml
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: English
  • Diet: Vegan


A delicious, gently spiced cordial made from English rhubarb, perfect for serving with sparkling water over ice, possibly with a good slug of gin!


  • 240g (8.5 oz) English rhubarb (approx. 1 large stalk)
  • 150g (5 oz) white granulated sugar
  • juice of 1/2 or 1 large lemon (depending if you prefer your cordial sweeter, or on the tarter side)
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 250ml (1 cup) cold water


  1. Top, tail and chop the rhubarb into approx 2 cm rounds. Combine in a medium saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, cardamom pods (bruised slightly with something heavy to crack their skins and reveal the little black seeds inside – I use a rolling pin) and water.
  2. Set the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and allow the rhubarb to simmer for 5 minutes until it is soft and you can break it apart with the back of a spoon. All the sugar should be dissolved to form a thin syrup.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to steep and infuse as it cools.
  4. Strain the syrup through a clean square of muslin and store in a sealed, sterilised bottle or jar in the fridge for up to a week.


You can of course use forced rhubarb here. It will produce a lovely, violently pink hue.