I am doing this post now before the canning season begins. In my neck of the woods it will be almost another 2 months before we see much fresh produce from our gardens. I figure so it now so everyone can start preparing the things they need to take full advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables by canning, freezing and just munching on the great fresh items available.
Since I am doing rhubarb this month I will start with it. You can stew it or make rhubarb jam from it. Either by itself or in combination with other fruits.
Making Stewed Rhubarb
When I do stewed rhubarb I cut it up into chunks. Some large some small depending on my mood and energy level. You put it into a large pot with enough sugar or sweetener to taste right for you and your family. I don’t like really sweet so I add about 1/2 a cup for every 2 cups of fruit. Then turn the burner to a medium setting and let it bubble away till the rhubarb is soft. At this point I add a can of pineapple tidbits when this is hot I turn off the heat and add some bananas. (Yes I said bananas) People look at me strangely when I say that is what is in my rhubarb but they seem to like the end result. My mother always added bananas and it gives a nice mild taste to the tangy rhubarb.
Now you have a choice of what to do with mixture. You can freeze it in either freezer bags (label them well) or put them into canning jars and hot water bath them. I prefer the freezer since I do not have too much shelf space to keep the jars. Also freezer bags or containers are much easier to find in the stores than the canning jars. It is just a preference either is good.
Diabetes and a Sweet Tooth
My husband has real sweet tooth but being diabetic and wanting to lose weight, he doesn’t get to have jam very much. I am also allergic to the citric acid they add to jams and almost every other food item so jams have been off the list of treats. When you grow up having peanut butter and jam on toast in the mornings you really start wanting it. It is a comfort food that he really misses. So this year I have made rhubarb jams. They freeze well and by using Splenda instead of sugar he can have his treat in the mornings.
Here is the basic recipe I have been using but feel free to add different fruit to the mix and you can have all sorts of different flavours. Also it calls for strawberry jello but you could use peach, cherry, raspberry for a change of taste.
Basic Rhubarb Jam
5 cups rhubarb cut up
1 small can crushed pineapple drained.
2 cups white sugar or 1 1/2 cups Splenda.
Mix the rhubarb and drained pineapple with sugar and let sit for 2 hours.
Then boil the mixture for 12 min. remove from heat and add 1 small box of jello.
Stir it well and put in containers. It makes about 6 cups of jam.
This is very simple, very tasty and you are completely done in 2 and a half hours.
Crab Apple and Rhubarb Jam
Now here is why I said you can change the recipe if you want.
The other day I had the rhubarb cut up but I didn’t have enough to make the 10 cups of rhubarb. So I went to the freezer and got a bag from last year that was just the right amount.
I Put it into the pot and added the sugar. That was when I noticed it wasn’t rhubarb I had added, it was a bag of crab apples from our tree from last year. (remember I said label the containers and bags well)
So I went ahead and followed the instructions to the point of adding the jello. Another miscalculation I had no more strawberry jello. I had picked up cherry jello by mistake. I used the cherry jello and put it into containers and then put it all but one into the freezer.
My icky picky eater husband tried it and loved it.
So success for me and that was when I figured out if you have the jello in whatever flavour, go ahead and use it. It adds a bit of flavour but its real job is to make it have the texture of jam instead of stewed fruit. You could use strawberries for part of the rhubarb or instead of the pineapple.
The choices are entirely up to you and your family’s tastes.
Last year I had rhubarb and didn’t have much desire to do anything with it so I cut it up and put it into bags and tossed it in the freezer. I used those bags of fruit when I would cook a ham. Just poured the bag over the ham with some cinnamon or chinese five spice and cooked the ham the way I normally would. Usually baked at 350 for 5 hours until it was fall off the bone cooked.
The flavour of the rhubarb really made the ham a nice treat.
You can use the frozen rhubarb for a quick dessert as well. Toss the rhubarb with some corn starch and sugar put it into a baking dish.
Make sure to use cornstarch or flour or you will have rhubarb oatmeal soup instead of rhubarb crisp.
The topping is
1 cup of quick cooking oats.
1 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter or margarine.
Mix this together and pour over the fruit.
Bake at 350 for about 3/4 of an hour or until the fruit is tender.
You can add different fruits to the crisp. A lot of people like rhubarb and strawberries together but try different fruits you like. I used blueberries once and it was wonderful, but try peaches or nectarines as well.
If you have any rhubarb recipes, I would appreciate hearing the ideas. I think we are going to have a bumper crop and I am running out of ideas of what to do with it. Much as we like it, it can get kind of boring with the same things all the time.