Rhubarb juice concentrate is an easy way to enjoy rhubarb in season, or preserve it for year round enjoyment.
Making rhubarb juice is an easy way to preserve rhubarb, and it’s perfectly safe for water bath canning. You can also skip the canning, and just store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (or the freezer for up to 6 months).
What I love about making rhubarb juice is that you can do it anytime the rhubarb is growing. Generally, once temperatures turn hot the rhubarb becomes stringy and tough. At that point, it’s not great for use chopped in rhubarb pie and most other rhubarb recipes.
When you make rhubarb juice, however, it doesn’t matter if the rhubarb is stringy since all the solids are filtered out. You’re just getting pure rhubarb flavor, and you can make this delightful rhubarb canning recipe even at the heat of summer.
This simple recipe for rhubarb juice concentrate comes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning, which has quite a few rhubarb canning recipes. I have dozens of canning recipe books, and while most have jam and jelly, this is the only one to have a canning recipe for rhubarb juice.
Ingredients for Rhubarb Juice Concentrate
The ingredients for making rhubarb juice concentrate are pretty simple, and all you really need is chopped rhubarb and water. The water is there to get the process started, and it just helps the rhubarb stalks not burn or scorch until they’ve softened enough to release their juices.
Be sure to remove the rhubarb leaves (they’re toxic), you only want chopped rhubarb stalks for making rhubarb juice.
The sugar is completely optional but obviously recommended for flavor.
The recipe from the Ball Book of Canning says that you’ll get a yield of 4 pints using the following ingredients:
- 12 Cups Rhubarb, sliced into 1 inch slices
- 4 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Sugar
If you have a rhubarb patch at home, the required 12 cups of rhubarb shouldn’t be a problem. Plants can be incredibly prolific once established!
Sugar is optional, and not required for safe canning, so it’s perfectly fine to can plain unsweetened rhubarb juice. That said, it’s very sour and you’ll need something to sweeten it unless you plan to use it in savory rhubarb recipes.
Alternative sweeteners work well here, just make sure they’re safe for canning (if canning). Using honey, maple or agave is perfectly fine here. I’d suggest using about 2/3rds as much because they’re sweeter by the cup than granular sugar.
I can’t keep track of the constantly changing recommendations regarding splenda, stevia, monkfruit and the myriad of other modern sweeteners since they’re not something I use. If you plant to use those for canning, just do a quick search and a bit of research yourself to see if what you have on hand is safe for canning.
(Most are fine, I believe, but I’d recommend double checking.)
How to Make Rhubarb Juice Concentrate
The basic process for making rhubarb juice concentrate is quite simple. All you really need to do is place the chopped rhubarb in a stockpot with the water. Bring it to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft.
Strain through a jelly bag or a colander lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth.
From 12 cups rhubarb and 4 cups water, you should get roughly 8 cups juice (or 4 pints).
Once the juice has been strained, place it back in a saucepan and add in the sugar (if using). Gently heat to dissolve the sugar, but don’t boil.
Rhubarb Juice Variations
The ball book of home canning includes one variation that adds both the zest and juice of a lemon and orange, creating a citrus-y rhubarb juice concentrate. The zest is filtered out with the rhubarb pieces before canning.
They call it “Sunshine Rhubarb Juice Concentrate.” Because you’re adding tart citrus juice, they recommend increasing the sugar to 1 1/2 cups (instead of just 1 cup).
Personally, I’m fond of a few different rhubarb juice canning variations:
- Rhubarb Lemonade Concentrate ~ Add the juice of 2 to 4 lemons, or around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I prefer the higher amount, which adds just under one lemon’s worth of juice per pint of concentrate. Increase the sugar to 2 cups. The yield should be closer to 5 pints (instead of 4). This concentrate is much stronger, as it has a lot of lemon tartness (and flavor), and will go a lot further when reconstituted than plain rhubarb juice concentrate.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Juice Concentrate ~ Add 1 to 2 quarts of strawberries to the mix when extracting the juice. Keep the sugar at 1 cup. Each quart of strawberries adds about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of juice to the final mix, so if you add about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups), you should get a total yield of 5 pints of strawberry rhubarb juice concentrate.
Canning Rhubarb Juice
Rhubarb juice is naturally acidic and safe for canning without added sugar or lemon juice. Adding those is optional, and just for flavor.
To can rhubarb juice, bring the rhubarb juice to a gentle simmer (around 180 to 190 F) and add sugar (if using). Stir to dissolve.
Fill pints or half pints with hot juice leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal with 2 part canning lids (rings and lids) to finger tight.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the jars in for an additional 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a towel on the counter.
Check seals, and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Sealed jars should maintain quality for 12-18 months on the pantry shelf. Refrigerate after opening.
(If you’re not familiar with water bath canning, please read my beginner’s guide to water bath canning before proceeding.)
Using Rhubarb Juice Concentrate
Rhubarb juice concentrate is delicious added to cold water or seltzer for a quick, refreshing drink. The amount depends entirely on your tastes, but I usually add about 1/4 cup to a pint of cold water.
You can also use it in rhubarb drink recipes, whether they be virgin mocktails or fancy rhubarb cocktails.
Rhubarb juice concentrate is an easy way to preserve the flavor of rhubarb in a convenient easy to use juice concentrate.
- 12 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1'' pieces, stalks only, leaves removed
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sugar (optional, see notes)
- In a large stock pot, combine sliced rhubarb and water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rhubarb is very soft and starting to fall apart, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Prepare a jelly strainer bag, or line a colander with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth. Strain rhubarb and collect juice. You should have around 8 cups (4 pints) of juice. Allow the juice to drip until the rhubarb is quite dry, about 1 to 2 hours.
- If canning, prepare a water bath canner by pre-heating it to just simmering (roughly 180 degrees F).
- Place extracted rhubarb juice back in a clean saucepan and add sugar (if using). Warm to dissolve sugar. It should be just barely simmering, but do not boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam (if any).
- Ladle hot rhubarb juice concentrate into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Cap with 2 part canning lids to finger tight.
- If canning, process jars (pints and half pints) in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the canner for an additional 5 minutes to cool slightly before removing them with a canning jar lifter to cool completely on a towel on the counter.
- Wait 12 to 24 hours, then check seals. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use. Properly canned and sealed jars may be store in the pantry. Refrigerate after opening.
The sugar is optional, and not required for canning safety. Alternative sweeteners may be used, but check to make sure they're approved for canning (if canning).
Try these variations for a slightly different flavor:
- Rhubarb Lemonade Concentrate ~ Add the juice of 2 to 4 lemons, or around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice. I prefer the higher amount, which adds just under one lemon's worth of juice per pint of concentrate. Increase the sugar to 2 cups. The yield should closer to 5 pints (instead of 4). This concentrate is much stronger, as it has a lot of lemon tartness (and flavor), and will go a lot further when reconstituted than plain rhubarb juice concentrate.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Juice Concentrate ~ Add 1 to 2 quarts of strawberries to the mix when extracting the juice. Keep the sugar at 1 cup. Each quart of strawberries adds about 1 to 1 1/2 cup of juice to the final mix, so if you add about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups), you should get a total yield of 5 pints of strawberry rhubarb juice concentrate.
- Sunshine Rhubarb Concentrate ~ Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange to the mixture when extracting the rhubarb juice. Add an extra 1/2 cup sugar (1 1/2 cups total) to account for the tartness of the lemon juice.
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Looking for more ways to use rhubarb this season?
Spring Canning Recipes
There’s plenty more to can this season…
- Canning Strawberries
- Strawberry Jelly
- Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam
- Canning Strawberry Pie Filling (coming soon)
- Honeyberry Jam (Haskap Jam)
- Dandelion Jelly
- Violet Flower Jelly