Saturday, June 7, 2014


Last Sunday evening we pulled back into town, four of us stuffed into the car that seemed to shrink fast with two boys in the backseat and so many plants and eggs and luggage and leftovers nestled in around us that it was hard to move.  The baby and I went out to the farm for a 4-day weekend, and my husband and a school-worn 2nd grader had come to pick us up.  Sunday morning, my Dad picked me some rhubarb.  That always seems to be tricky thing.  How much do you want?  Not too much?  Once you get to slicing through the stalks, you lose track of how much rhubarb is not too much.  I figure I had a paper sack with about 30 pounds, so much that he had to tie it up well with garden twine to contain it to the bag.  

Ash-rhubarb comparison.
With baby for scale.  This rhubarb patch is huge.

I remember the days when I practically lived behind the windshield.  Almost every weekend it would take me exactly 4 minutes to pack everything I'd need; I'd toss all of it into a green army duffel sack that I actually still have but is going unused in the basement.  Now, it takes me way too much time and planning to get out the door.  I have to tuck all the cultures in, I have to bake bread to bring along.  I have coolers in the summer to keep all the stuff I bring to and fro cool.  An extra son makes backseat real estate a premium, and I absolutely refuse to drive a minivan so these sardine days will be with us for the foreseeable future...

But the rhubarb was worth it.  I didn't bring any dessert with me this time because I knew my Mom would have something rhubarby baked, and she did.  It was great.  In fact on Saturday, I ate rhubarb dessert 3 separate times.  But when I lobbed the heavy bag into the basement fridge on Sunday night I wondered if I'd get through it without having to sacrifice any to the compost pile.  It took the week, but I did it.   I'm proud to admit I had zero waste, even though that rhubarb patch grows like crazy and when I can't reach it I'm blessed with neighbors who are happy to share.


I got to meet Marisa McClellan (Food in Jars) in person when she was in the Chicago area in April, and was freshly inspired by her and her books.  I made a tiny batch of her Rhubarb-Rosemary jelly (a single canned jar, actually and a mostly full one to enjoy now) from her new Preserving by the Pint book after the rhubarb had been prepped and sitting in the pan with water for 24 hours.  It seems each day I feel I get nothing accomplished, and when I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day, I realize that I actually accomplish tons.  Sometimes preserving might go on hold for a few hours but thankfully it's a forgiving process.

Encouraged by my Mom's bright pink rhubarb dessert, which when asked she told me she just baked with the pinkest parts, I set out making rhubarb juice concentrate using just the pinkest parts of the stalks.  Why didn't I ever think of that?  For years, my rhubarb endeavors were "industrial green" as I had taken to calling them.  Delicious, but utilitarian.  The concentrate was from the Ball Home Preserving book, and had lemon and orange zests and juice in it.  It's really very nice, and 4 1/2 pints are probably a perfect quantity for me as the sole rhubarb consumer.

Then with a glass of rhubarb juice in hand, I made myself a crisp.

rhubarb crisp

In the interest of time, I noted the process on flickr if you click the photo.  I still have some left - it's marvelously tart.

Thursday I made 2 9x13 pans of Rhubarb Kuchen and yesterday I delivered them to my friend Ginny who shared them.  And somehow in between line-dried batches of laundry I also managed to get a batch of Marisa's Rhubarb Vanilla Jam with Earl Grey done yesterday too (the recipe is in her first book, and also on her site) - and in the company of a napless and fairly cranky kid who grasped at my knees for dear life pretty much the whole time I was stirring the canning pot. 

I really can't get over the difference using just the pinkest part of the rhubarb stalks!  I think this is one of the nicest rhubarb jams I've had ever.  I left some of the errant earl grey tea leaves in for asthetics.

rhubarb vanilla jam with Earl Grey

All of that pink rhubarb left me with an amount of green rhubarb, which I think tastes just as fine as the rosy base of the stalk if not conjuring a more vegetal side of rhubarb.  Yes, I could do something savory with it... but I wouldn't bother trying to get the boys to eat it.  Instead, I chopped it up and was amazed to find I had exactly the 2 1/2 pounds that Deborah Madison calls for to make a green rhubarb puree in her Seasonal Fruit Desserts book that I was fortunate to find a copy of.  I have to pick up a grapefruit later today to make it, but look forward to her tarts made with a corn flour base and barely spiced green rhubarb puree.

green rhubarb

Hopefully, that can wait a few days until the rhubarb crisp is gone.  It does seem to me that sliced rhubarb keeps well in the refrigerator if stored in plastic.  That's probably a good thing.


  1. I made two batches of that vanilla rhubarb jam with earl grey last year and it was my husband's favorite. Such a nice use for a bumper crop of rhubarb.

  2. I made a batch of FiJ's Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Rose Water last weekend. Have you tried that one? I returned to the empty pot throughout the rest of the day scraping every last abandoned streak with my spoon. Your rhubarb endeavors all sound delicious!


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