Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhubarb Curd.

After considering frugality yesterday, it almost seems funny to me that I woke up this morning and decided to make rhubarb curd. All curds I have made, lemon, lime or orange, seem to have an air of sophistication that scream luxury and not restraint, and rhubarb curd is no exception. It is intensely Springtime, impossibly smooth, wickedly tart, and positively addictive. I can sincerely add frugal to that list, since I used up frozen rhubarb from a year ago, and frozen egg yolks left over from a Daring Baker Challenge. Skimping even on the sugar, this actually seemed like a zero cost project (since it seems I am all about being cheap lately), and it really does taste like a million bucks.

A few days ago, I saw a pic on flickr that inspired the whole rhubarb curd thinking. It's actually not something I'd ever heard of or considered making. I am not normally in the habit of posting things just to post them, but this curd is so good that it demands seasonal attention for all of you who have been waiting all year just for rhubarb to reappear.

I get my rhubarb from my Mom's established patch. Her cuttings came from my Gram and as I've said before, I love thinking about the ancestry of those perennially spectacular plants. Our rhubarb isn't the gorgeous pink strawberry rhubarb that most recipes I see on food blogs have access to. Ours cooks down to an industrially drab green, even though if I choose to make juice with it, it does have a rosy pink glow when the stalks are strained away. Because I didn't want a drab greenish curd but rather a pretty pinkish one, I decided to add a few strawberries (also from my freezer) to naturally dye the lot into a more respectable hue. It worked, and I'll probably use this trick again when making jam or sauce. I couldn't really detect the strawberry as a flavor, which is what I was aiming for, but it probably did add a nuance of sweetness which enabled me to further slash the sugar content.

Rhubarb Puree.

A week ago, I made 12 cups of frozen rhubarb into a pectin-free refrigerator jam since I was looking ahead to make some into crostatas. It tastes really great (though it is a little on the unattractive side aesthetically speaking...) and originally I though I would alter Dorie Greenspan's lemon curd recipe to use it. Then I found this recipe from Lara Ferroni which appeared to save me the trouble. In the time it took me to defrost my frozen egg yolks in a makeshift double boiler, I had cooked down a respectably reddish rhubarb puree, and had blasted it into complete smoothness in my VitaMix. It tasted so great on it's own that I considered scrapping the whole curd idea, especially since my frozen yolks looked a little suspect.

The frozen yolks did end up come back almost fully to life, and certainly did their job of thickening. I remedied any telltale specks of cooked yolk by straining the curd through a metal sieve before putting it into jars. If you are using fresh yolks and the mixture doesn't "break", you will not need to do this I suspect.

Rhubarb curd doesn't appear to gel quite the same way as citrus curds do, but rather has an almost gelatin soft set to it. I think it would be stellar in the bars that Lara Ferroni originally posted this with, and also perhaps in this giant scone that Bojon Gourmet recently posted that I also can't seem to get out of my head... I cut the sugar quite a bit and found it plenty sweet, but you can use the original proportions if you prefer your rhubarb on the sweeter side.

Rhubarb Curd (adapted from Lara Ferroni)
makes about 12 oz. finished curd
  • 400 g. chopped rhubarb (about 14 oz. or 4 c.) I used 10 strawberries, then added the rhubarb to equal 400 g.
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t. or more lemon zest
  • 50 g. (about 3 1/2 T.) butter, cut into pieces
Stir the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of sugar together in a medium sized pot. (Since I was using frozen rhubarb I didn't add any water, but if you are using fresh, you can use about 1/4 cup of water.) Cook over low heat until you can no longer see whole pieces, and the rhubarb looks like a uniform sauce. (Using a VitaMix enabled me to blend the puree smooth when it was still hot. You do not have to blend it smooth at all, but then the curd will not be absolutely smooth the way a citrus curd is.) Cool the rhubarb sauce, and blend to a smooth puree if you desire.

In a double boiler (or a bowl over boiling water), whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and warm. Add about 1 cup of the rhubarb sauce and the lemon zest. Keep stirring until the mixture is warm again. Check for taste and add more of the pureed rhubarb until you get the desired flavor and color. Remove from heat and stir in the butter a piece at a time until is melts and disappears into the curd.

If you are concerned about lumps as I was, strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve and store in glass jars. Citrus curds have a refrigerated life of a couple of months, but this recipe was listed as one week. I suspect you can get longer out of it, but I also suspect that there will be none left to contend with after a week passes.

I actually have a lot of last year's Spring food to use up. For some reason, I tend to hoard things like strawberries and rhubarb that I froze a year ago, preferring the comfort that they are within my arm's reach. This actually happens to me every year, and then all of a sudden, I'm looking for ways to use things up quickly so I can make room for the new. Hoarding strawberries, I didn't know that I still had 4 quarts to use up before the June berries will be on. June is nearly here! What am I saving them for? Though, this year, things look like they may be running late, so maybe it is a good thing that I am so judicious in my usage...

I am the sole rhubarb eater in my family, and I have no idea why. My boys won't try it, and it's one of the things that I don't even try to push on them, since I love to hoard it for myself. When this curd is gone, I'll likely sit down with a slab of rhubarb kuchen - though that is such a heavy recipe I usually make it when I can give most of it away lest I eat all of the slabs. Meanwhile, I dip my finger into the little glass jar, amazed at the power of Spring and rhubarb. Amazed at my wealth, culinarily speaking.


  1. I just moved some containers in the freezer and found 3 pint bags of raspberries. MMM. Raspberry season is not for another 2 months here. I am finishing up rhubarb also...that is just coming up now.

    Am thawing out a bag of rhubarb now...husband requested pie but I think I will look at your rhubarb kuchen recipe first.

  2. Rhubarb curd sounds great. I think one of the fun things about making curds is that they seem like a total luxury, but they aren't hard to make and the ingredients are simple. Culinary wealth is better than lots of other kinds of wealth, I think!

  3. It's in the oven now and the college students have mysteriously appeared at the kitchen table , with their laptops. I have built in food testers.

    Was a breeze to make. Did by hand ...a daughter bought me a combo cuisinart but I find my old ways just as easy. I did add allspice to the topping as is the spice I normally would add to a rhubarb cobbler, crisp etc.


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