Monday, August 1, 2011


I am amazed at the number of people who tell me they don’t like rhubarb. Usually upon further questioning, many have only ever tried it raw. I was further surprised to find out several people I talked to grow rhubarb in their yard, but only as a background for other flowers and shrubbery, but don’t use it to make yummy foods. Really? How could you? Well I don’t like it raw either, but I love Rhubarb pie, Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb cobbler, Rhubarb jelly, Rhubarb syrup, Rhubarb jam, Rhubarb Crisp, and Rhubarb fruit leather.

One thing that I really like about Rhubarb is how easy it is to use. Just pull the stalks, wash and cut into pieces and freeze for later use. If you have never tried Rhubarb, I want you to do something with it. I bet you’ll love it too.

I can't believe how easy it is to dry Rhubarb, thus freeing up more space in your freezer – can you tell that is an issue with me? Last year I made rhubarb fruit leather for the first time and I loved it. A lot. It is so easy and so good. I hesitated at first because there are so many other things I’d rather use it for and if you don’t have access to a lot of rhubarb, you become choosy about how you use it. I’m going to share the instructions on how to dry rhubarb as well as some of my favorite Rhubarb recipes. Here goes:

How to Dehydrate Rhubarb Using a Dehydrator
Remove (cut off), and safely discard the rhubarb leaves, (rhubarb leaves are poisonous).
Cut off the "pulp" end of the rhubarb stalks.
Rinse the rhubarb stalks with water.
Chop the rhubarb stalks into 1/2" - 1" pieces. Remove blemished areas of the stalks. (I like ½” for drying and all the pieces should be uniform in size)
Steam the rhubarb until it is slightly tender.
Transfer the rhubarb pieces to the dehydrator trays, and set the temperature to 130°, or as per the dehydrator manufacturer's instructions.
Rotate the dehydrator trays for "even" drying.
Drying time will vary with Dehydrator Model. Approximate drying time is between 6 - 14 hours, or as per the dehydrator manufacturer's instructions. Rhubarb pieces will feel leathery/crispy when dried.
I like to measure out the amount of rhubarb that my recipes call for before drying, (usually 4 c.) then I don’t have to worry about measuring when rehydrating.
Store the dried rhubarb pieces in airtight containers or bags.
Remember to label the containers or bags with the date, and use the "oldest" dehydrated rhubarb first. The rhubarb may appear brittle when dried, but it will reconstitute well when you include it in your rhubarb recipe.

Rhubarb Fruit Leather
4 c. chopped (1” pieces) fresh rhubarb
4 c. boiling water
½ c. brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
In heatproof bowl combine rhubarb and the 4 c. boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes. This softens the rhubarb and removes some of the acidity. In blender puree the softened rhubarb in batches. Add sugar and cinnamon. Taste and adjust flavorings as needed. Puree until smooth. Pour on trays and dry until sheet can be turned over. Dry to desired consistency – chewy to slightly crispy. Optional: add a can of cherry pie filling to blender and puree with rhubarb for a sweet and wonderful flavor.

My favorite Rhubarb Recipes:
Rhubarb Jelly
Cook rhubarb until it is mushy. Cover with just enough water to cover, the less water the stronger the flavor will be. Strain rhubarb extracting as much juice as possible.
3 c. rhubarb juice
1/3 c. liquid pectin (1 pouch or ½ bottle)
4 ½ c. sugar
Bring juice and pectin to a boil. Add sugar and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Pour into sterilized jars and put lids on. Water bath 15 minutes. This is a delicate, tangy jelly, especially good on thumbprint cookies or waffle or pancakes.

Rhubarb Pie
4 c. sliced rhubarb (1” slices)
1 2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
Dash salt
Combine flour, sugar and salt. Stir in rhubarb and let stand 15 minutes. Prepare pastry for 2 crust 9” pie and line pie plate with pastry. Fill with rhubarb mixture. Dot with 2 T. butter. Adjust top crust and seal edges and flute. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam Brush crust with milk or egg white and sprinkle with sugar on top. Cover edges of crust for the first while of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake on a baking sheet lined with foil at 400º for 50 minutes.

Cherry Rhubarb Jam

4 c. diced Rhubarb, Fresh, Frozen or Rehydrated
1 ½ c. sugar
3 oz. package cherry Jell-O
1 can (21 oz.) Cherry pie filling
In a large sauce pan, combine rhubarb and sugar. Le stand for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in pie filling. Seal in hot jars.

Rhubarb Crisp
5 c. chopped rhubarb
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. quick-cooking oats
½ t. cinnamon
3 T. butter or margarine
Place the chopped rhubarb in an 8" x 8" greased baking dish. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the above mixture over the rhubarb, and pat down lightly. Bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Serve hot or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Rhubarb Cobbler
4 c. Chopped Rhubarb, fresh, frozen or rehydrated
1½ c. Sugar
¼ t. Salt
2 T. Lemon Juice
1/2 t. Almond Extract (optional) may substitute vanilla
2 c. Flour
2 T. Sugar
1/4 t. Salt
1 T. Baking Powder
¼ c. Shortening
¼ c. Butter
½ c. Whole Milk
1 whole Egg
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine rhubarb, sugar, ¼ t. salt, lemon juice, and almond extract. Stir and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, 2 T. sugar, ¼ t. salt, and baking powder. Stir together. Add shortening and butter; then cut together with a pastry cutter. Beat egg and milk together. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. Pour rhubarb into a buttered 9x9” baking dish. Tear off pinches of dough and drop it onto the surface of the fruit. If you wish for a thinner crust, don’t use all of the batter. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. butter, melted
2 ¼ c. diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
4 ½ t. sugar
6 T butter, softened
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 t. vanilla
1 c. plus 2 T. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ c. milk
¼ t. cream of tartar
Whipped cream or ice cream
Combine brown sugar and 3 T. butter. Spread into greased 9” round baking pan. Layer with rhubarb; sprinkle with sugar and set aside. Cream butter and ¾ c. sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder & salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. In small bowl, beat eggs whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into creamed mixture, about ½ c. at a time. Gently spoon over rhubarb (pan will be full, about ¼” from top of pan.)Bake 325º 50-60 minutes or till cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto serving platter. Serve warm with whipped cream of ice cream. Note: if using frozen rhubarb measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in colander, but do not press liquid out.

Rhubarb Muffins
1 ½ c. brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk, or sour milk
¼ c. vegetable oil
2 ½ c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3 c. rhubarb, chopped
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ c. chopped nuts, optional
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
1 T. melted butter
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl combine 1½ c. brown sugar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of this mixture on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.

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