I always think that I have plenty of ways to enjoy rhubarb, and then I come across another idea or recipe. It’s a good thing, because in my shaded, woodland garden, rhubarb grows all summer without bolting, and my two plants can easily yield what I need for this week’s recipes in one harvest.
These recipes highlight the essence of Twice as Tasty food: You start with one basic ingredient. You use it to its fullest extent. And you ideally come out of one prep session with multiple products—in this case, jars of syrup and jam. As you’ll see when you read the recipes, they’re heavily linked to each other. But they also build on two previously posted recipes that use gingerroot and vanilla bean. So really, all this multitasking in the kitchen uses three ingredients to their fullest extent and ties into four products. This is the kind of stuff I geek out on, but hopefully I’ve made it easy for you to enjoy the results.
Here’s how this process works in my kitchen:
- Day 1. Make Pickled Ginger, reserving 1 cup of the ginger-infused water, what I call ginger juice. Harvest and slice the rhubarb for both syrup and jam, toss it with sugar, and let it sit overnight. Time spent: 30 minutes.
- Day 2, morning. Boil and strain the rhubarb for syrup. Time spent: 30 minutes.
- Day 2, afternoon. Run four burners on the stovetop: one with a boiling water bath, one with a tea kettle, one with a pot of syrup, and one with a pot of jam. Start the water bath and tea, then the jam, and finally the syrup; process the jars. While they’re processing, make Homemade Vanilla Extract. Time spent: 30 minutes.
- Total time spent: 1-1/2 hours. Results: 14 jars of homemade goodness.
Of course, each of these recipes can be made independently. Here’s how to make just the ginger syrup:
You need just 1 main ingredient plus some ginger, sugar, and lime juice.
1. Mix the rhubarb, ginger juice, and some sugar and let sit overnight. (If you didn’t make Pickled Ginger, just boil a few slices in water for a minute.)
2. Cook the mixture and strain off the rhubarb juice.
3. Cook the rhubarb juice with some more sugar and lime juice.
4. Process in a boiling water bath and store.
1 cup reserved “juice” from Pickled Ginger
5-3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice
Cut the rhubarb into 1/2-inch slices, adding it to a wide, 6- to 8-quart pot. Measure out 3 cups of sugar, and stir it and the ginger juice into the rhubarb. Cover the pan with its lid, and let the rhubarb macerate at room temperature overnight, until the sugar starts to release the juice.
Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft. Remove the covered pan from the heat and allow the rhubarb to cool for about 20 minutes so that it’s easier to handle. Set a wire mesh strainer over a 1-quart or larger measuring cup, and add the pot’s contents in stages, stirring gently to strain off the juice and transferring the solids to a bowl to use in jam (see below). You should have about 4 cups of liquid; add some water if you come up a bit short.
Clean the saucepan of solids and pour the juice back into it. For 4 cups of liquid, add the remaining 2-3/4 cups of sugar. Add the lime juice, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook for 1 minute for a cocktail syrup and 5 minutes for a breakfast or dessert syrup. Skim off as much foam as possible.
Ladle the syrup into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Alternatively, cool and then divide among 5 12-ounce containers and freeze. Makes about 5 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re just making the syrup, the rhubarb pulp can be baked into another recipe or frozen for future use.
- If you’re making both syrup and jam (see below), you can harvest and slice all 5-1/4 pounds of rhubarb at one time; check that you have 8 pounds of sugar at hand as well.
- In this recipe, ginger “juice” is simply the ginger-infused water leftover after blanching gingerroot. If you haven’t pickled ginger recently, you can simply blanch some slices in 1 cup of water for 1 minute.
- You might cringe at the volume of sugar, but it’s key to the shelf life of the processed syrup—both before and after the jar has been opened. If you cut back on the sugar, keep the syrup in the fridge or freezer instead of canning it. Standard granulated or raw cane sugar has a neutral flavor that doesn’t compete with the other flavors, but you could substitute turbinado or brown sugar.
Twice as Tasty
There’s a lot to love about rhubarb. Once established, this perennial grows itself; no matter how badly the rest of my garden may suffer from cold, bugs, or neglect, rhubarb always comes through. Perhaps that’s why it has always been such a staple in my family. As I’ve already shared, I grew up eating rhubarb in everything from crisp to pie to marmalade. I’ve since found new favorite ways to enjoy its tart flavor.
A few years ago, I started running across bergamot–rhubarb pairings that sounded irresistible. Of course, I wanted to adapt the recipe to make the most of each ingredient, which meant adjusting proportions to use up the rhubarb pulp left after making syrup and grabbing every bit of deliciousness from a vanilla bean. One ingredient proved too much of a stretch to alter: Although I grow bee balm, an edible perennial that’s sometimes called bergamot, it’s different from the bergamot orange oil that’s used to flavor Earl Grey tea. So I pick the flowers for the table and brew up the tea for the recipe.
Here’s how to make just the rhubarb jam:
You need just 1 main ingredient plus some tea, sugar, and lemon juice.
1. Macerate the rhubarb. (If you didn’t make a syrup, chop up extra rhubarb and toss it with extra sugar.)
2. Cook with the other ingredients until thick.
3. Process in a boiling water bath and store.
Rhubarb–Earl Grey Jam
2-1/4 cups sugar
reserved rhubarb pulp (about 3 cups) from Rhubarb–Ginger Syrup
6 ounces water
2 teaspoons Earl Grey tea leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
Prepare the rhubarb as you would for Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade: Add 1/2-inch slices of the fresh rhubarb and the sugar to a large bowl, stir, cover with a tea towel, and let macerate overnight.
Boil 6 ounces of water and add the tea leaves, letting them steeping for 5 minutes. Put the sliced fresh rhubarb and reserved rhubarb pulp in a wide, 6- to 8-quart pot. Add the tea and lemon juice. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape in the seeds; save the pod for another use. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for 10–15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and a bit darker and the fresh rhubarb has softened.
Ladle into hot half-pint hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Alternatively, cool and then divide among 7 12-ounce containers and freeze. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- You could make this recipe entirely from rhubarb pulp, but the color will be duller once you’ve removed the juice for syrup. I recommend adding some fresh rhubarb; a combination of fresh fruit and fruit pulp produces a bright yet soft spread.
- You can also make it entirely from fresh fruit, adding 3-1/4 pounds of rhubarb and 2-3/4 cups of sugar to the recipe. Such jam will set with a couple of extra steps: Heat the macerated fruit and sugar, strain off the juice, and reduce it to a syrup before combining all the ingredients. Adding 2/3 cup of apple pectin will help it set.
- The vanilla seeds add a subtle flavor that nicely offsets the tea and lemon. Some recipes also add the pod, but I prefer to save it for flavoring extract or sugar.
Like what you’ve learned? To learn more in a Twice as Tasty workshop—in your own kitchen, among friends, and with my personal help—click here. If you’re not yet a Twice as Tasty subscriber, get newsletters delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.