The bright red stalks of early spring rhubarb give this preserve its lovely color as well as its tangy flavor. Use rhubarb compote as a topping for ice cream or other desserts (it's terrific on ginger snap cookies!). You can also use it to make mini-tarts, add it to strawberries or other fresh fruit to make pies, or freeze it into a delicious sorbet.
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds rhubarb leaf stalks)
- 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Place all the ingredients in a medium sized pot over low heat, starting with the lesser amount of sugar. Stir constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb pieces fall apart. When the compote is about as thick as applesauce, turn off the heat.
- Taste, and add additional sugar if you desire more sweetness. Keep in mind, though, that the sour flavor is part of what is special about rhubarb. If you do add additional sugar, return the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Fill clean canning jars with the rhubarb compote, leaving half an inch of head space. Tap the bottom of each jar gently but firmly on the palm of your hand to settle the compote and release any air bubbles. Screw on canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Combine with Strawberries
- Strawberry - rhubarb is a classic combination. Simply replace 1/2 of the rhubarb with hulled, chopped strawberries and reduce the amount of sugar.
- Use Honey Instead of Sugar
- Choose a mild, lightly colored honey such as orange blossom or clover. Use 1/3 less honey than the sugar called for in the recipe.
- Add Fresh or Crystallized Ginger
- Ginger pairs wonderfully with rhubarb. Add 1 - 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized (candied) ginger to the recipe.
- Turn the Compote Into Rhubarb Sorbet
- Chill the compote in the refrigerator overnight (8 - 12 hours), or as long as 24 hours. Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Rhubarb is in the Rheum genus. It is originally from Siberia, so yes, it's cold-hardy! It's fairly easy to grow rhubarb, and although it would prefer full it will tolerate partial sun.
- The leafstalks are the part we eat. The green parts of the leaves are toxic, which is why you never see rhubarb stalks for sale with the leaves attached.
- Most commonly treated like a sour "fruit" and sweetened, rhubarb is also used as a vegetable in savory dishes.
- Green rhubarb leafstalks are also edible and their flavor is identical to the red ones.