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How to Use Rhubarb

rhubarb harvest

It is Rhubarb Harvest Time

May is the time for rhubarb harvest. We have a large rhubarb patch here at Bliderud. Most of it is from an old rhubarb root we found on the farm. Despite that, we use the rhubarb from a plant with red stalks rather than the old green stalked plants.

In any case, I like the rhubarb plant itself. Its large leaves make a statement in the garden and I value it as much for its visual presence as for its use. Yet, it’s a fairly tight window for harvesting rhubarb. I have heard that rhubarb shouldn’t be harvested after midsummer, which is the 23rd of June. On the other hand, others say that if you harvest regularly, you’ll be able to harvest for a much longer time.

Due to the short season, it may be a challenge to use all the rhubarb before the stalks become trained. And, to be honest, there is a limit to how much rhubarb we can eat within a few weeks.

Rhubarb_harvest
Rhubarb harvest
What to Make of Rhubarb

Last week, I harvested 10 kilos of rhubarb. That is not counting what we have eaten for desserts and given away. Last year, I gave away most of our rhubarb and, the year before, I made a lot of rhubarb jam. As it turned out, we didn’t eat much rhubarb jam, and I still have a couple of containers on the shelf.

I have been researching different recipes and ways of using rhubarb, and here is a list of what I have done this year.

  • Freezing
  • Juicing
  • Canning
  • Baking
  • Drinks

Freezing

Rhubarb can be frozen directly. I use frozen rhubarb for desserts and cakes. However, frozen rhubarb should be used within about 6 months, because it dries up and looses its freshness over time. Last week, I froze 5 packages of 500 grams each. I think that will be sufficient for the two of us.

rhubarb_on_scale
Rhubarb on scale

Baking

Frozen rhubarb can be used like fresh rhubarb in cakes and desserts. Traditionally, I’ve grown up with rhubarb soup and rhubarb pudding. Nowadays, I like to make rhubarb crumble with fresh or frozen rhubarb. I misinterpreted a Norwegian recipe from Godt.no, but it turned out very tasty.

My error was to add the spices (cinnamon, cardamum, and star anis) in the rhubarb filling instead of the crumble. Nonetheless, this gave the rhubarb a very good flavour.

Juicing

steam_cooking_rhubarb
Steam cooking rhubarb

Making rhubarb juice is a good way to use rhubarb, if you have a lot. I used a steam cooker to extract the juice. Following that, I heated the juice to the boiling point and added sugar. 

I used 250 g sugar per liter juice.

For servings, I use 1 part juice to 2 parts water. 

Add a few ice cubes and it is a perfect drink on a hot summer day.

rhubarb_juice
Rhubarb juice

More about juicing with a steam juicer here.

Canning

Rhubarb is excellent for canning. Rhubarb jam, jellies and sauce can easily be canned.

So far, I found an old fashioned recipe for making a spicy jelly as a condiment for meat. The flavour is very good, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn to jelly. Maybe I’ll do it again, but add something to turn it to jelly.

I’m also looking at recipes for rhubarb syrup and rhubarb sauce and might try out some of that too.

jelly
Spicy rhubarb jelly

Drinks

I came across a recipe for rhubarb infused gin at goodfood. In short, I din’t have gin, so I made it with vodka instead. Hence, I might buy a bottle of gin and try the recipe of that too.

I like to mix drinks and I have discovered a lot of drinks based on rhubarb.

rhubarb-plants

Anyway, rhubarb is very veratile. May is a busy month in the garden and it is a challenge to find time for harvesting and processing right now.

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