The first time you see a rhubarb plant is memorable. It’s striking. Giant tropical-sized leaves shading bright magenta stalks. I first came across rhubarb accidentally – chasing a soccer ball in a friend’s backyard. The ball had rolled under the canopy of leaves when I came across those magenta stalks one after the other rising out of the ground, so stalwart, so powerfully …magenta! Rhubarb is one of the quirkier gifts of Spring - those stalks a thing of rugged beauty, are the perfect foil for Spring fruits, their tartness adding dimension and maturity to pies, cobblers, and all manner of bubbling fruit delights, as well as jams, preserves and chutneys. Here’s a medley of recipes of what to do with those fabulous pink stalks. Oh, and one word of warning: you only cook the stalks. The leaves, those great big leaves are poisonous. Sounds like a perfect plant for Rappaccini’s daughter‘s garden — more about this fascinating story by Hawthorne here. But I digress. Back to rhubarb recipes. Rhubarb-Berry Jam by David Lebovits
5 one cup (250ml) jars
Even though strawberries are the classic accompaniment with rhubarb, I find more assertive berries, like raspberries, to be better. I used a mix of many this time around, with black and red currants, raspberries, blackberries, and diced strawberries, just because I had some on hand. So use whatever you wish, and frozen berries work just as well. Because rhubarb doesn’t have much pectin, and I don’t use commercial pectin, I’ll often add apple juice which helps the jam to set nicely.
- 3 pounds (1.25kg) rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch (2cm) pieces
- 2 cups (250g) packed mixed berries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup (250ml) water or apple juice
- 5 1/2 cups (1kg, plus 100g) sugar
- juice of one lemon
- pinch of salt
- optional: 1 tablespoon kirsch
1. In a large pot, mix the rhubarb, berries, and the water or apple juice. Cook, covered, stirring frequently over moderate heat, until the rhubarb is cooked through and thoroughly tender. It should take about 15 minutes.
Put a small plate in the freezer.
2. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and cook, uncovered, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the surface, until the jam is thick and passes the wrinkle test.
To do so, place a small spoonful of the jam on the frozen plate. Return it to the freezer and check it a few minutes later; if the jam wrinkles when nudged, it’s done. You can also use a candy thermometer; jam jells at approximately 220F (104C).
3. Stir in the kirsch, if using, then ladle the jam into clean jars, cover, and store in the refrigerator.
Note: I don’t process most jams since I eat them within a few months and keep them in the refrigerator. If you wish to process them, check out Practical Canning Tips.
3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup coarsely chopped red pepper
1/3 cup dried cherries, cranberries or raisins
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh rhubarb, cut into ½ “ pieces
In a saucepan combine all ingredients except rhubarb. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rhubarb. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for additional 5 minutes to 10 minutes until thickened. Let cool. To store, cover and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months. Makes 2 ¾ cups. Rhubarb & strawberry panna cotta by Mimi Thorisson
This delightful dessert is so incredibly easy to make! I always keep pretty yogurt pots, either in terracotta or glass – they come in very handy for this treat. Make sure to prepare these well in advance, as they do need time to set, at least 1/2 day or overnight in the refrigerator. The gelatin I use comes by pack of 9 sheets weighing 17 g – so 5 sheets is approximately 10 g. The rhubarb & strawberries compote is a perfect match – I usually make a double dose of compote, as I love having some for breakfast or mixed in my porridge bowl. Enjoy!
For the panna cotta (makes about 8 small jars)
750 ml full-cream/whole milk
250 ml heavy cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
150 g/ 2/3 cup granulated sugar 5 gelatin sheets – (10 g)
Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water. In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream, vanilla beans and sugar on a medium heat. Bring to a soft simmer, take off the heat and add the gelatin sheets (squeeze off excess water). Stir with a whisk until completely dissolved. Set aside. Fill the ramekins 3/4 full. Leave to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until set (at least half a day).
For the rhubarb and strawberries compote
250 g/ ½ pound rhubarb, chopped
150 g/ 1/3 pound strawberries, halved
65 g/ 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Rinse rhubarb and strawberries. Cut the rough ends of the rhubarb and slice into small chunks. Halve the strawberries. Place fruits in a saucepan, add the sugar, lemon juice and water. Turn the heat on medium and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 to 12 minutes. Leave to cool, store in a glass jar with a lid, and store in the refrigerator. To serve: When the panna cottas are set, fill the panna cotta jars with the rhubarb & strawberries compote.
To celebrate all the new produce popping out of the earth at the sun’s bequest, we’ve put all our kitchen labels on sale.
Chef Medallions, Canning Labels, and Oval Kitchen Labels
through May 12, 2014
We’ll giveaway one set of the kitchen labels of your choice (either Chef Medallions, Canning Labels, or Oval Kitchen Labels). It’s easy to enter too. Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite rhubarb recipe, and/or include a link (if it can be found online). We’ll pick the winner from the entrants randomly on Wednesday, May 14th.
Photo credits: The rhubarb plant, Rhubarb and Strawberry Panna Cotta. Recipe and their intro by David Lebovits, Mimi Thorisson, and BH&G respectively. Other photos: Felix Doolittle.
A special thanks to Cara Lichtenstein’s mother for making the Rhubarb Chutney!