Bingeing on Rhubarb

Spring came early this year, and with it came rhubarb. Now, rhubarb is one of my favorite foods in the spring, but apparently it is frowned upon when pregnant or nursing. This means that of the last 5 springs, I have only been able to enjoy rhubarb once. Since this was the first spring that I was neither pregnant nor nursing I was really looking forward to my rhubarb binge!

I think you should love rhubarb as much as I do. Here are some reasons why:

  • It has a fair amount of vitamin A.
  • It pairs so nicely with strawberry that you will think they were made for each other. Who’s to say, maybe they were?
  • When you combine it with blueberries you get to say “bluebarb”, as in Bluebarb Jam, Bluebarb Crisp, Bluebarb Pie. You get the idea.
  • It freezes well (slice it first) and then brightens up your winter when you thaw it out and use it.
  • Its tang keeps rhubarb desserts from developing that cloying sweetness that I loathe. Really, if I want something that just tastes sweet I’ll have a spoonful of maple syrup and call it done.
  • This tang also makes it ideal for savory-sweet or sweet ‘n sour applications, such as marinades, sauces, and chutneys.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder called it “pie-plant.” That’s cool.
  • It’s hardy and actually requires cold winters, so even in Zone 3 planting areas you don’t have to dig it up and winter it over indoors. (Rosemary, I’m talking to you here. Although I love what you do to a potato I simply cannot tolerate your winter high-maintenance needs. You and I are not friends when I’m in New England.).

Not convinced yet? Alright, check out some of my bingeing:

Rhubarb Chutney

This time of year, one of my favorite go-to books is Food in Jars with great preserving ideas and recipes. I tried a small batch of the rhubarb chutney last year and loved it, so I did a batch again this year. I highly recommend using this one, or finding one of your own to try. Especially if you have kids! It’s perfect for a table set for kids that like plain food (rice, chicken, carrots and peas) and parents who don’t (rice and chicken mixed together and topped generously with flavorful chutney, with a side of carrots and peas).

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Rhubarb Syrup

This was super easy and fun. And delicious! Try this syrup in lemonade. sparkling wine or white wine, or even in a basic vinaigrette. And although the recipe (yes, from Food in Jars) says to discard the remaining rhubarb pulp after sieving the syrup out, I saved the rhubarb and threw it into pancakes the next morning. I’m thinking this winter I’ll try rhubarb bread or muffins with the extra jar of rhubarb pulp I froze.

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Rhubarb Muffins

I got the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for my birthday last year and have slowly been enjoying the recipes. These guys are pro’s, and I love the detail they offer in the recipes. This is a modification of their blueberry muffins, and the molasses, maple syrup, and brown sugar combined perfectly with the tang of the rhubarb. I especially love that this recipe suggests letting the batter rest overnight then cooking up fresh muffins first thing in the morning. Yum!

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Rhubarb Sauce

Nothing is simpler than this: combine diced rhubarb with sugar and cook it down until soft and a bit sweet, then stir in a touch of vanilla. We spooned this strawberry and vanilla ice cream the other night. Swoon! We were so excited that, um, I forgot to take a picture to share.

Future Projects

I froze a bunch of rhubarb before we headed out of town last week (next post: Have Children Will Travel Part IV). I’ll be trying out a rhubarb-Earl Grey-vanilla jam or a rosemary jam. And maybe another kind of chutney.

It’s just not spring without rhubarb. If it’s not too late for rhubarb where you are, grab some and head to the kitchen. Or hunt down a good frozen stash and try something new. And if you’re pregnant or nursing, my apologies. There’s always next spring.

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One comment

  1. Jerry Rondorf

    Hi Riva,
    As I was reading your blog on rhubarb and seeing it called “Pie Plant” it brought back mamories of my mom, your great-grandma, Hulda Rondorf. I had forgotten it was called that and I don’t think I have heard it called that since she was alive. She would always say, “Go out and get some pie plant.” She did make great rhubarb pies and sauce. I have continued on with making the sauce but that is about as far as my cooking expertise goes.
    I sure enjoy reading about your family and all your travels. Keep up the great work.
    Your great uncle,
    Jerry

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