Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rhubarb

rhubarb
Rhubarb is one of the first spring edible plants we have, and we are always excited to see it sprouting up. It means winter is over. Finally.

It doesn’t take long for rhubarb to be useable, and the first thing we always make is a rhubarb pie.

Growing rhubarb is very easy. We have ours in a raised bed, but almost any spot will do, as long as it’s sunny (it will grow in part shade, but not as well). Remember, though, that rhubarb can get quite large, so plan accordingly. Also, plants can live for many, many years. Be sure you pick a place that suites their habits.

For the best growth and largest stocks, mulch your rhubarb plants with compost every fall. Also, pick off the seed heads as they develop to extend the harvest.

Rhubarb freezes well. Early spring pickings are the best to freeze. Remove leaves (they are poisonous, even to some livestock) and discard any tough ends. Cut into 1” slices, place in a zip lock bag and freeze. We like to freeze rhubarb 2 cups to a bag because that is what most recipes we use call for. To use, simply thaw and you are ready to cook.

We make a rhubarb sauce just like applesauce with honey and cinnamon. Very tasty.

RHUBARB RECIPES

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

1 quart strawberries, hulled
1 ½ pounds rhubarb, cut into ½” pieces
3 cups honey
1 orange, juiced

Combine strawberries, rhubarb and orange juice in a large kettle. Heat to almost a boil (stirring frequently) and stir in honey. Mix well. Lower heat and boil, stirring constantly until jell stage is reached. Remove from heat, skim of foam and pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

Rhubarb Pie

2 9” pie crusts, unbaked
2 cups chopped rhubarb (more if desired)
¾ cup honey
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425° Grease pie plate and put in bottom crust. Combine rhubarb, honey and flour. Mix well. Place in pie crust, dot with butter. Put top crust on, crimp edges and cut in some vent holes.
Bake about 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350° and bake about 30-40 minutes more.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.



Hints:

Try replacing rhubarb for half of the blueberries in your favorite blueberry pie recipe.

Combine equal parts of chopped rhubarb and water to make a tea. Boil together for about 20 minutes, strain rhubarb and add honey to taste. Good hot or chilled.

Rhubarb can replace apple in a lot of recipes, you may need to add a little more sweetener.

We add some chopped rhubarb to a stir fry for a zippy taste.

Make a rhubarb sauce just like applesauce with honey and cinnamon.

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