Glorious Rhubarb (plus how to can)

It’s that brief, glorious time of year when rhubarb is plentiful. If you know the right people, chances are it’s even free. I love it so much that I want to eat it all year, whether or not it’s available, so I have no other choice but to can it or freeze it. My absolute favorite way to eat it is in a fruit compote mixed in with yogurt. This one, taken from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is made with strawberries (dug out from last year’s stash in the freezer to make room for this year’s crop) and a touch of anise.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote

about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch segments
about 1 quart strawberries (frozen is fine)
3/4 c sugar (more or less to taste—how tart is your rhubarb?)
zest and juice of one orange
1 or 2 star anise

1) Dump everything in a pot:

It will look dry, but not to fear: the sugar will soon release the juices from the strawberries.

2) Heat it up until it’s boiling, then turn down the heat to medium low. Cook it until it’s all falling apart and mushy, about 30 minutes or so. Stir it occassionally. If it’s not mushy yet, keep cooking.

Eat promptly. If you don’t want to eat it promptly, you have two choices. You can freeze it (easier, lazier, and my preference), or you can can it in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Actually, we haven’t covered that, have it? Not to fear. It’s very easy. Take a look at the canning in the pressure cooker post. You’ll follow steps 1-3:

1) Make sure the food you want to can is hot and have clean, sterilized jars standing by. Keep the water in the pot that you boiled the jars in going, because you’re going to need it later.

2) Meanwhile, heat up the lids in a separate pan.

3) Transfer the hot food to the jars and screw on the lids. You want them comfortably tight. No forcing.

Here’s where it’s a tad different.

4) Remember that big pot with the boiling water for sterlizing the jars? Presumably it has some sort of rack on its bottom to keep the jars from breaking? Make sure that’s still there. Now, gently, and CAREFULLY, lower the jars into the boiling water. When it starts boiling again, start timing. For rhubarb, you process for 10 minutes.

5) Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and set them aside to cool. They make tools for this. After a few hours they should be sealed. If they don’t seal, you are forced to eat them (or, I suppose, freeze them).

As always, if you’re confused about canning, check out the Web site of the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

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5 comments to Glorious Rhubarb (plus how to can)

  • the addition of star anise looks interesting! i will have to try this!

    i am one of those people you referenced that would be lucky to know during rhubarb season. i have so much i never know what to do with all of it. i have a large bowl of rhubarb/sugar macerating in the fridge right now as a matter of fact…preparing to make lavender rhubarb jam. i really love herbs and spices with fruits.

    thanks for this!

  • dorisandjilly

    Lucky you! Mine is still too small to rip out without thinking about the consequences. My folks in Indiana have more than they know what to do with but it’s a bit harder to come by here in Philadelphia.

  • brenda

    I know how to can almostanything. My problem is what to do with it after. Like this rhubarb. How do u use the sauce after u have canned it?

  • dorisandjilly

    I love tart things, so I put it my homemade yogurt. I also like it on ice cream, with biscotti, and on bread with an extremely mild soft cheese. Finishing it is not a problem for me…

  • […] you may recall that I’ve been on a strawberry and rhubarb compote kick. So, a couple of days ago I pulled a quart container of berries from the freezer, stuck them in the […]