From the archives, just in time for rhubarb season and the May Can Jam! Enjoy!
. . .
Today I started tackling the metric ton of rhubarb that I brought home from Maine. I started with about 4 lbs, washed everything well, trimmed off the fat stem end and a small slice off of the top (leaf) end, and started chopping. I picked out the prettiest, pinkest stalks to make Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly (courtesy of Gourmet via Garrett McCord of VanillaGarlic); I decided to macerate the rhubarb overnight with sugar so that jelly will be a project for tomorrow. It took about 2 lbs, diced into 1/4-inch slices, to fill my dehydrator; Neighbor Nancy tells us it ought to take 8-12 hours to completely dry, at which point I’ll have dried rhubarb for scones, muffins and granola. Yet another pound was sliced into 1/2-inch lenghts and frozen for eventual use in Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. And I still have plenty left!
If you, too, are blessed with an excess of rhubarb here are some basic preservation techniques for lovely, pink, tart, delicious, Springy rhubarb!
For more rhubarb ideas, including non-preserving recipes, check here.
I’ve refrigerated farmer’s market rhubarb for up to a month, with only a little bit of softening in the stalks. It does help to keep the rhubarb in an airtight container; I usually cut the stalks in half and place in a Ziplock bag, with a paper towel (to absorb any excess water and maintain crispness), and store in the crisper in my refrigerator. You could also use one of those long & skinny Tupperware containers that are designed for celery (which I guess are now considered antiques – my Mom always had one in the fridge!).
Rhubarb will lose its shape as it thaws, so choose to freeze rhubarb for jam, chutney or jelly recipes that will not require a crunchy rhubarb texture. Wash each stalk well and trim off the ends. Make sure you discard or compost the leaves (if present) as they are poisonous (or make stepping stones, insecticide, or paper!). Slice the rhubarb according to a recipe you have in mind, pat dry on a kitchen towel, and pack into a Ziplock bag, or other freezer container, from which you can expel all air. Freeze in a recipe-sized portion, so that if it freezes together, you can add one big clump to your pot, or spread onto a cookie sheet and freeze loose, then pack into your bag or container.
- Cranberry Orange Rhubarb Popsicles
- Crispy Pork with Rhubarb Sauce
- Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble
- Rhubarb Cherry Ginger Crumble (gluten-free)
- Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Pie Filling
Wash and trim rhubarb stalks. Slice large stalks in half lenghtwise, in order to keep each piece of rhubarb approximately the same size. Slice into ½- to 1-inch pieces, then scatter across the trays in a dehydrator, being careful not to let the individual pieces touch, which slows down the drying process. Rhubarb should dry at a temperature of about 135-145 degrees F for about 8-12 hours. Two pounds trimmed & sliced filled five dehydrator trays and yielded 1 cup tiny, tart & puckery dried rhubarb pieces. Pack dried rhubarb into airtight storage containers and store in a cool, dark place.
Alternatively, if you do not have a dehydrator, you can spread rhubarb on cookie sheets, or if slicing larger pieces, on wire cooling racks, and dry in the oven. Set your oven as low as it will go (range is typically 150 – 200 degrees F) and check on the rhubarb occassionally; it may take anywhere from 4 – 10 hours to dry completely. You can get creative and try other methods: spread rhubarb on screens and sun-dry (cover with cheesecloth to protect from bugs and airborne twigs, leaves, etc.), or place screens in a warm, dry place like the attic, or a shelf above your woodstove. If experimenting, I suggesting trying it first with a few stalks of rhubarb, then proceed if it works to your satisfaction.
Also see Rhubarb Rosemary Two-fer for a discussion on making rhubarb leather in the dehydrator.
Use: in granola, oatmeal, quickbreads, or anywhere else you may use dried fruit.
If canning rhubarb straight, most people will want to add sugar, as its natural tartness is too much for many to eat straight out of the jar (or off the plant) without sweetener. Rhubarb needs no additional acid, as it is solidly acidic with a pH of 3.2-3.4, and can be safely canned in a boiling water bath without the addition of either acid (lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid) or sugar. Added sugar will help to preserve color and texture, and extend shelf-life, of canned rhubarb.
Unsweetened canned rhubarb, from Putting Food By: Fill jars with hot fruit and its juice, leaving ½-inch of headroom. Process in a Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes for either pints or quarts. Slice rhubarb into manageable pieces, about 1-inch or smaller, and juice enough rhubarb to fill your allotted jars. Bring sliced rhubarb and juice to a boil, then lower to a simmer and fill hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch headroom, and process in a BWB for 15 minutes. If you do not have a juicer, you can use any unsweetened juice, boiling, to fill around the rhubarb: apple, raspberry, and cranberry are all good choices and are available unsweetened in health food stores.
From the Ball Book of Home Preserving, Rhubarb in Syrup:
- 16 cups sliced (1-inch) rhubarb (about 4 lbs)
- 2 – 4 cups sugar
Toss rhubarb with sugar (amount dependent on how sweet you would like the final product and how thick you want the syrup) in a large, non-reactive saucepan, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 30 seconds. Ladle hot rhubarb and liquid into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Process in a BWB for 15 minutes. Yields 8 pints.
- Apple Rhubarb Chutney with Fennel & Cardamom
- Black Cherry, Rhubarb & Red Wine Preserves
- Irene’s Jam
- Orange Rhubarb Butter
- Preserving Rhubarb
- Rhubarb & Black Currant Jam
- Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
- Rhubarb Blueberry Pie Filling
- Rhubarb Prosecco Jelly
- Rhubarb Rosemary Jelly & Leather
- Rhubarb Syrup & Rhubarbaritas
- Strawberry Rhubarb Amaretto Sauce
- Strawberry Rhubarb & Caramelized Onion Jam
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Two Ways
- Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves
- Sweet Cherry & Rhubarb Pie Filling
- Tai’s Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Need even more ideas? Here are a couple from around the web. Got a favorite? Shout it out in comments below – links welcome!
- Check out the “rhubarb” tag at Punk Domestics.
- Hungry Tigress’ rhubarb Can Jam.
- What Julia Ate brings us mulberry rhubarb lemon jam.
- Nicole’s (Arctic Garden Studio) Pinterest page for rhubarb.