With spring finally here, the first thing out of the garden is rhubarb. It has graced the table every spring for as long as I can remember. Most of my relatives have it growing like a weed in their gardens and when I'm home I always grab some. The tangy tartness pairs well with so many things, I would have a hard time deciding on a favourite recipe, strawberry rhubarb pie, Barb's rhubarb cake or Grandma Craig's stewed rhubarb with pineapple over biscuits.
I grabbed a lot when I was home last. It is too early for strawberry rhubarb pie so I canned a lot of mine. At home it is referred to as stewed rhubarb but it is really a rhubarb compote if you are looking for recipes. I spent an afternoon in the kitchen and 4 hours and 40 cups of rhubarb later ended up with 21 jars of various delicious sauces and a clean kitchen. I had a base recipe to work with and I'll share my variations. The great thing about canning this is that it cooks really fast, 15 minutes for the longest batch, so you can do a lot quickly.
7 cups of rhubarb, cleaned and chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 cup of sugar- I like mine tart so sweeten to taste
Prepare and sterilize jars and lids according to manufacturers directions.
Cover the bottom of a stainless steel pot with water, rhubarb releases juice quickly so you don't need a lot
Add rhubarb and over high heat cook until the juice starts to come out, about a minute
Add sugar and bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 7 or 8 minutes total, told you it was fast*
Ladle hot mixture into jars leaving 1/2 " head space and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Remove and let cool
Yield is about four to six 250 ml jars depending on how much you reduce the liquid
*Because of it's acidity, rhubarb is perfect for canning. I usually simmer mine a little longer to remove some of the liquid but you don't have to. Below are some of the variations I used.
Pineapple- add two cups of fresh or canned pineapple to the rhubarb and cook as above.
Blueberries- add two cups of frozen or fresh and cook as above. I upped the sugar by a 1/4 cup as well for this one
Orange- add 1/2 cup of orange juice and a tablespoon of zest and cook as above. I didn't use zest when I made mine and the orange taste was not as strong as I had hoped for so that's why I am including it
Mint- add 2 tablespoons of fresh mint and cook as above. This was a new one for me and it is delicious. I was a little hesitant to try it, not a huge fan of mint but am really glad I did. The other way to do this would be to mix fresh mint in before serving plain rhubarb compote. Definitely worth a try.
I have always though of this as a dessert for biscuits, toast or over pound cake, but these sauces would work in a lot of savoury dishes as well. It would pair well with a white fish like tilapia or swordfish. The mint would be great with lamb. Any would be good with chicken or pork. The blueberry would be amazing with duck. It isn't just for dessert anymore.
I though I had time to do a basics of canning post before prime canning season started but I guess I was wrong. My canning equipment has been out twice already. I'll try and get it done before the strawberries are ready. Barb's rhubarb cake is coming next.
What is your favourite rhubarb recipe? Feel free to pass it along, I can always use new recipes to enjoy this often over looked treat.