Rhubarb Rosemary Two-fer

I tried out the Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly recipe from Gourmet (via VanillaGarlic).  Of course I had to get all fancy-pants and macerate the rhubarb overnight in sugar (to release more juice), and then decide to use pectin instead of gelatin, for a firmer set and the ability to store at room temperature, and then realize that I couldn’t use pectin, because you need to add the pectin before you add sugar to the juice, and then dig frantically around in the Dread Food Cabinet for gelatin while the rhubarb was simmering and jars were boiling and lids were steaming… Why, yes, thank you, it is fun being me!

It was a typical ‘recipe’ for me, in a lot of ways. I futzed with the technique, reduced the sugar, increased the gelatin, didn’t have enough rosemary, so added some in after the fact; in truth, not very much in common with the Gourmet recipe.  But, I have to say, it came out quite well. I’m not a huge fan of jelly in the first place; I prefer the texture and flavor of jam, which has some bits of fruit left in it and doesn’t require as much sugar for substance and gel.  I’ve also never liked the waste of throwing away the pulp left behind after fruit is juiced (it’s the New England Yankee in me, what can I say).  Therein lies the “two” part of the Two-fer: I made Rhubarb Rosemary Leather with the pulp remaining from the jelly recipe.  Ta daaa!  I feel so homesteady.

The jelly is tart, not overly sweet, and the subtle hint of rosemary gives it added interest.  I would definitely have it on toast or a PBJ.  The only drawback is that it must be stored in the fridge; I left a jar out overnight and it was still completely liquid at room temp; it solidifies to jelly in the fridge.  To me, it seems a little pointless to “preserve” the harvest if it must be refrigerated; but I guess 3 half-pint jars do take up less room in the fridge than 1 lb of rhubarb. If I make it again I will likely freeze the rhubarb, then thaw overnight in the fridge in a colander susupended over a deep bowl, to release the juices, then use the juice to make jelly according to the package instructions on the pectin box, that way I’ll be able to store at room temp, and give it away as gifts.  I can see using this as a marinade for roasted chicken, or a compote base, maybe with apples, for pork cutlets or chops, maybe even a tangy-sweet salad dressing.

The leather was a revelation!  I’ve never made fruit leather before, but this was easy-peasy, quick, flexible and versatile.  Tart, sweet, chewy texture, rosemary bits: usually fruit leathers taste like plastic to me, but I’ve never had any that was homemade – what a difference!  Night and day, honestly.  This leather is really quite delicious and took about 3 minutes of extra work (after making the jelly).  It is a no-brainer and no waste!  My Yankee heart goes pitter-pat.

Don’t know what to do with your Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly?  Try out Pork Chop Heaven or Rhubarb Rosemary Pork Cutlets with Onion & Beet Sauce.

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Rhubarb Rosemay Two-fer

INGREDIENTS

Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly

  • 1 lb rhubarb, washed & trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup organic evaporated cane juice and 1 cup turbindao; white refined sugar will yield a more robustly pink color)
  • juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3/4 oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes, or about 3 tbsp)
  • pinch sea salt

Rhubarb Rosemary Leather

  • leftover pulp from Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly
  • about 4 oz (1/3 can) frozen orange juice concentrate
  • about 1/8 cup strawberry puree (frozen is fine)

METHODS

Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly

  1. Add sugar, rhubarb and lemon juice to a medium bowl, mix well, cover, and allow to macerate at room temperature for approximately 4 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Add macerated rhubarb to a medium saucepan with 1 and 1/2 cups water, vinegar, and rosemary.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Most rhubarb pieces should distintegrate; to get the last few stubborn pieces, I mashed them up with a potato masher.
  3. Have ready a fine sieve over a large bowl, for straining the jelly.
  4. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup warmed water (microwave for 20 seconds) and allow to soften for 1 minute.
  5. Remove rhubarb mixture from heat and add gelatin; stir until gelatin is just dissolved.
  6. Pour mixture through the fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract every bit of juice.   While the juice is still hot, ladle into jars. If desired, add 1/4 tsp of minced rosemary to each jar for added rosemary flavor (it will float on top). Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Yields about 3 cups.

Rhubarb Rosemary Leather

  1. Transfer pulp from Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly to a medium bowl.
  2. I had some strawberry puree in the freezer, leftover from Kami’s Aborted Birthday Cake. If you don’t have any strawberry puree, there is a recipe for it here. You can also release the juices from strawberries by heating gently for about 15 minutes, then pureeing in a blender or food processor.  It is not quite as intense a strawberry flavor as when you reduce the juice, but it doesn’t require an overnight drain. You could also substitute a berry-flavored frozen juice concentrate.
  3. Add frozen OJ concentrate and strawberry puree to the bowl, mix well and taste. Adjust stawberry and/or OJ concentrate to taste.  Add a pinch of salt, splash of lemon juice, or more rosemary, if necessary, to punch up the flavor. (I did none of these amendments and the leather came out fantastic, but make it according to your taste).
  4. Spread directly onto the tray of a dehyrdator, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.  Laying down some plastic wrap on the dehydrator tray may make removal easier.  Dry in the dehydrator at 135-145 degrees for about 12-18 hours, or until just slightly tacky to the touch. Chilling in the refrigerator for 10 minutes made this much easier to remove from the tray. Remove, lay leather on a piece of plastic wrap, then roll the leather up in the plastic wrap and store at room temperature.  If you do not have a dehydrator, you can dry fruit leather overnight in the oven.  Set the oven as low as it will go, line a baking sheet with a silicone mat (or use heavy-duty plastic wrap, trimmed so the edges do not touch the oven rack) and spread to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.  Dry in the oven overnight, or for about 8 – 16 hr, depending on how low your oven temp will go. This amount should fill about half of a standard baking sheet.

Yields 1 dehyrdator tray of leather, about 6 oz.

OPTIONS

  1. The original jelly recipe called for 3 and 1/4 cups sugar; if you like your jelly really sweet, feel free to up the amount of sugar. As noted, refined white sugar will give the purest pink color.  My jelly is definitely a pretty, rosy hue, but has hints of brown from the turbinado.
  2. The original recipe called for 3 tbsp of rosemary; I could only harvest about 2 tbsp from my rosemary plant, so that’s what I used.
  3. You can simply cook the rhubarb without the overnight maceration in sugar, although yield may be slightly less.
  4. Any frozen juice concentrate or sauce can be added to the pulp to make the fruit leather – feel free to experiment! To achieve a super-smooth consistency, puree everything together in a food processor before spreading onto tray/baking sheet.

STORE

Jelly in the refrigerator for 2 months.  Leather at room temp or refrigerated, for about 6 months.

SEASON

Spring, or with frozen rhubarb, year-round.

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6 comments

  1. Do you ever use Pomona’s Pectin? I’m wondering (if you have used it) how you would suggest tweaking this so that I can use that brand instead of the gelatin? It just happens to be what I have on hand currently.
    Thanks!

  2. Hi Erika,

    I haven’t used Pomona’s; I know it’s different from the standard Ball or SureJell pectin. However, according to their package directions, you would use 3/4 – 1 tsp of pectin for each cup of rhubarb juice to make a jelly:

    http://pomonapectin.com/PDF/Recipe%20Card%201.pdf

    For this recipe, I would predict about 1 cup of juice per 1 lb of rhubarb.
    You could also try calling their JAMLINE to ask their advice (I know Shae, of Hitchhiking to Heaven, has called them before with good result).

    Good luck!

  3. Trish

    I just discovered this site. Cool!!! Lots of great info that I’ll use.

    I had health issues this year and not tended plants well. My rhubarb plant is over 7-feet tall. It’s nearly reaching garage roof. I’ve never seen one this big. It’s very overdue for trimming, Husband is complaining. (He doesn’t eat rhubarb but I’ll win him over.) Plant is starting to flower so I’ll trim this evening. Are all the stems/branches still edible or are they too woody? The parts at the base are really thick. I have dehydrator so maybe that’s the answer for this.

    I find it mildly entertaining that people with any yard space actually pay for rhubarb. It’s so easy to grow! When I was a child, my uncle had a couple of rhubarb plants growing in his back yard. They were there when he moved in, He just mowed over them when he cut the grass and they came right back. My cousins and I would scurry out to pick and eat the raw stalks before he got there with mower. Yum. Nice treat.

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