Cooking with rhubarb is more than just pies

Spring rhubarb brings to mind the flavour of a delicious rhubarb pie.

In some places rhubarb is known as pieplant because of its frequent use in pies. But rhubarb can be used for so many more things from soups to jams to meat tenderizer or a pot cleaner. Rhubarb can add that tang to both savoury and sweet dishes. The acid in rhubarb aids in tenderizing meats and if you simmer some rhubarb in a stained corning wear pan, you will be amazed at how the stains will disappear.

Rhubarb is frequently paired with strawberries or oranges, but saskatoons also make a delicious combination.

In Great Britain, rhubarb and ginger are favourite companions. When harvesting rhubarb, discard the leaves because they are slightly toxic.

To satisfy the spring rhubarb pie craving the following is a family favourite recipe from Faye Atkinson, a Western Producer reader.

She shared that her friend’s mom, Olga Loster, gave her this recipe in about 1970. Faye fondly remembers frequent visits with her best friend Marilyn when “Auntie” Olga would serve this pie with ice cream and coffee to the two girls and their boyfriends.

Olga Loster’s Rhubarb Pie

  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar 375 mL
  • 3 tbsp. flour 45 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted 15 mL
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 c. chopped fresh rhubarb 1 L

Blend sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Melt the butter and stir it along with the beaten eggs into the sugar mixture. Add rhubarb and mix well.

Pour into a nine-inch (22 cm) pastry-lined pie plate and top with pastry.

Bake at 450F (230C) for 10 minutes, then at 350F (180C) for 30 minutes.

Note: Bake the pie immediately to avoid a soggy crust. Place on a cookie sheet, to catch any drips, and on the lower rack of the oven to be sure the bottom crust gets cooked.

Rhubarb Saskatoon Chutney

This is wonderful served with barbecued meats or curry. Yields 12 cups (3 L).

  • 8 c. rhubarb, chopped 2 L
  • 8 c. onions, chopped 2 L
  • 4 c. saskatoons 1 L
  • 3 c. cider vinegar 750 mL
  • 1 c. raisins 250 mL
  • 2 c. brown sugar 500 mL
  • 1/4 c. candied ginger, minced 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. salt 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. pepper 5 mL

Place 12 clean 250-millilitre mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water, and heat to a simmer. Set screw bands aside. While chutney is cooking, heat sealing discs in hot, not boiling water. Keep jars and lids hot until ready to use.

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven, or large heavy bottom pot. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.

Ladle hot chutney into a hot jar to within one-quarter inch (0.5 cm) of the top of jar.

Using a nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim to remove any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining chutney.

When canner is filled, add more hot water to cover jars by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1,000 feet (305 metres), process 10 minutes.

When processing time is complete, turn stove off, remove canner lid, wait five minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed for 24 hours.

After cooling, check that sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Label and store in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

Adapted from Rhubarb More than Just Pies by Sandi Vitt and Michael Hickman and homecanning.com.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

The rhubarb provides the tangy flavour and pulp to this recipe rather than tomatoes or tomato paste. Marinate meat in the sauce overnight to tenderize. Yields 1 cup (250 mL).

  • 1 c. rhubarb 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped 125 mL
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 c. apple cidervinegar 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. molasses 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershiresauce 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper 1 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smokeflavoring 2 mL

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often, especially toward the end of cooking.

Blend until smooth using an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor to blend.

Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for one to two weeks, or freeze for up to six months.

Roasted Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

This is a flavourful jam that is naturally thickened. Yields 3 cups (750 mL).

  • 4 c. rhubarb cut in 1/2-inch pieces 1 L
  • 2 c. strawberries 500 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 10 mL

Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and vanilla together in a glass baking dish.

Roast in the oven at 350F (180C) stirring occasionally until the jam reduces and the juice is almost completely boils off.

Watch closely toward the end of the cooking time as the sugars will be very concentrated and will burn easily.

Cooking time will vary depending upon the water content of the fruit and the depth of the baking dish. Allow up to 90 minutes for the jam to cook fully.

Cool and place in one cup (250 mL) freezer containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or label and freeze and use within three months. Adapted from rockrecipes.com

Rhubarb Carrot Soup

This is a good recipe for using up some of the stored carrots and frozen rhubarb. It is a nice soup for a cool spring day.

The carrots, rhubarb and onions are roasted in the oven to add flavour. Yields four to six servings.

  • 2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped (4-5 cups) 1 kg
  • 1 c. rhubarb, diced 250 mL
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated 5 mL
  • 4 c. low sodium vegetable stock 1 L
  • 1 tsp. sriracha sauce(optional) 5 mL

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Toss carrots, rhubarb, onion, canola oil, cloves and black peppercorns together on a large baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a large stockpot.

Add salt, ginger and stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil on a medium high heat, simmer until vegetables are very soft.

Remove from stove and blend with an immersion blender until completely smooth or blend small batches in a blender until smooth.

Return the stockpot to the stove and gently simmer for another 15-20 minutes on medium-low. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Stir in sriracha sauce just before serving. Serve with a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Adapted from abrowntable.com

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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