Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bee-Boppa-Rhubarb!

Our rhubarb patch looks spectacular this year and Sunday I finally got around to doing some rhubarb cookin'. I made two recipes from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving: Rhubarb-Ginger Chutney and Gingered Rhubarb Jam with Honey. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with either finished product. The chutney may improve with age and will be fine with pork, but my immediate impression was that it lacked the sweet and sour contrast of a good chutney. The jam is far too sweet for my taste--the honey completely overwhelms the rhubarb and ginger. The kids will love it, though, and the nice thing about making small batches is that we're not stuck with eating tons of something we don't like.

Fortunately, I did manage to make one fantastic rhubarb recipe, which I found at The Rhubarb Compendium, which truly has everything you ever wanted to know about growing, cooking, and even cleaning, with the first of spring's fruity ruby beauties. Continuing with the rhubarb-ginger theme, I made Gingered Rhubarb Apple Crisp, replacing two of the apples with some firm Washington pears I picked up at the market Saturday (which had me wondering just how do they keep those apples and pears so fresh for so long). Well, this was just absolutely one of the best desserts I've ever made. The ginger and rhubarb combination is amazing and the crystalline oatmeal topping added just the right contrast to the soft fruit. We had the crisp for dessert Sunday evening and by lunchtime on Monday, there was only one piece left. I'm looking forward to making it again later this week.

So, we still have more rhubarb to harvest. What else might we try to do with it? Freezing is out, as we're getting our quarter of grassfed Oregon beef on Saturday (!!!) and I'm determined not to add anything to the freezer. Anyone have a good rhubarb jam recipe that shows off its tartness rather than masks it with sugar or honey?

5 comments:

Hello, I'm Sally. said...

I don't have a rhubarb jam recipe, but you should check out the Big Crumb Coffee Cake at SmittenKitchen.com. I'm hoping to make it soon.

Meenagirl said...

That book looks awesome, will have to check it out. I've been enjoying Wild Fermentation and Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing, might even be ready to tackle some of the old-style preservation methods by next summer ;)

Chris said...

Ooh, thank you for telling me about Smitten Kitchen, Sally. What a great blog! Her photography is amazing--the pictures of apricots in the breakfast apricot crisp recipe are downright pornographic.

Amoreena--I can't wait to try raw fermentation! I am going to try the fermented ginger carrots in Nourishing Traditions soon and I'm really looking forward to making real sauerkraut and pickles.

fasenfest said...

Hey Chris,

So this is what a chef at noble rot gave me:

Cover cubed and raw rhubarb completely with sugar. This is sort of "curing" it. Put in some sort of herb. He suggested rosemary. Let is sit covered at room temp four to five days. Juice will be rendered to create syrup. After all is dissolved, drain. Put chunks in canning jar. Heat drained syrup to the boiling. Remove the herbs prior. Pour boiling syrup over chunks and can 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
He says the barb cubes will keep their shape - calls them rhubarb jewels. They serve it on an olive oil and cornmeal cake with creme fraiche. Yum I think. I did all this and will wait till winter to enjoy. They did keep their shape. Good luck.

fasenfest said...

Me again,

I also have been searching for crisp recipes and found a formula I like. It is more a general guide line then a recipe but then that is how I like to cook.

If you cut the rhubarb (what you got and how much you need to make) and add about 1/4 sugar to maybe 3 cups cubed (actually to taste) and let it sit for an hour or two it will render the juice and make judging how much thickening to add a little easier. Generally I add quick cooking tapioca pearls to my acidic fruit for thickening. So again, depending on how much juice there is is how much tapioca I add. Maybe 1 T. to one cup juice. You can follow this formula for pie as well and any acidic fruit though some folks might not like tapioca. I kinda do and I definitely like it with rhubarb.

I then make crisp topping ahead of time (whatever recipe looks good) and store it in the fridge so I can get down and dirty when the spirit moves me. Just plop fruit mixture in a greased pan to hold all my fruit and top and tap down crisp topping. Preheated 350 degrees for about 45 minutes and if I need to - under the broiler for a minute to crisp up.