Last year I planted a Rhubarb plant. Big deal, you may say. But really, it was. According to all the gardening books, Rhubarb is a must have in the garden. It is one of the first fruits (or vegetables, to be precise) to emerge in the Spring and it is so versatile. Jams, chutneys, cordials …you name it and you can probably make it with Rhubarb.
In Holland (where I am from, in case you didn’t know already) we use Rhubarb mostly as sort of an apple sauce to go with your regular potato, vegetable or meat dish. Most of the time when you buy this sauce it is brownish and a bit gloopy. I know it doesn’t sound delicious but maybe it’s an acquired taste. Anyway, my latest challenge is to convince my husband Rogier that it doesn’t have to be brown and gloopy and to convert him into a Rhubarb lover.
Pam the Jam maker
I have this book from Pam the Jam maker at River Cottage. Pam Corbin’s handbook about preserves and jams is inspirational and I think she’s great! Last year I made the chilli pepper jelly, the lemon squash and I tried making one of the jams (which didn’t work but it wasn’t Pam’s fault – I got distracted mid process and went to have a chat with my neighbour…).
So back to Rhubarb, I only have one plant and most of the recipes required at least two kilos which I don’t have, so I settled on Spring Rhubarb Relish. As you can see on the photos, it turned out a lovely dark pink colour. With respect to Pam, here is the recipe: (apologies to Sow and So’s American readers but it is all in millilitres and grammes, but there are wonderful converter programmes on the Internet)
(makes four x 340 g jars)
- 500 g granulated sugar
- 100 ml cider vinegar
- 1kg rhubarb (untrimmed weight)
- 125 g raisins
For the spice bag
- 50 g fresh root ginger, bruised
- 2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
- 6 cloves
First make your spice bag by tying up the bruised ginger (give it a gentle wack just once in spice bag), cinnamon sticks and cloves in a 20cm square of muslin.
Put the sugar, vinegar, 100 ml water and the spice bag into the preserving pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and allow the spices to release their flavours into the syrup. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim and wipe the rhubarb stalks and chop into 2-2.5cm chunks.
Add the rhubarb and raisins to the spiced syrup. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick but the rhubarb is still discernible as soft chunks. Remove from the heat, pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. Use within 12 months.
Caution: make sure you only use the stalks and not the leaves because the leaves are poisonous.
If you are interested in preserving your produce then I can definitely recommend Pam’s book.