More to rhubarb than jam and pie


By LISA LOSASSO BELL

Are you in the mood for fresh rhubarb pie straight out of the oven? How about some rhubarb jam?

Although those are the most popular preparations for rhubarb, this tangy treat can also be made into a variety of wonderful treats and healthy side dishes such as rhubarb cake, rhubarb crisp and even rhubarb salad.

Unfortunately, we can’t just run to the local grocery store to purchase a bunch of fresh rhubarb stalks.

But luckily it is a hardy perennial and is well-suited for growing in Ohio and will produce in most soils.

According to a recent article by Marianne Riofrio of the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, common cultivars that produce well in Ohio include MacDonald, Valentine, Victoria, Canada Red (aka Chipman) and Crimson Red.

For the best crop, Riofrio suggests purchasing rhubarb as crowns or divisions.

Crowns should be planted as soon as possible so they don’t dry out and are best planted in early spring when the roots are still dormant or the plants are just beginning to leaf out.

Rhubarb cannot be harvested the first year of growth. Riofrio suggests waiting until the plants are well-established, picking only a few leaves the second year and enjoying a full harvest from the third year on.

Never harvest more than 1‚Ñ3 to 1‚Ñ2 of the plant stalks. This will preserve enough foliage to sustain the crown.

After six years the plants can be dug up and divided.

According to ourohio.com, a 1‚Ñ2 cup of rhubarb yields only 15 calories and is a good source of vitamin C and even some calcium. Because pulled stalks dry out less rapidly, it is always best to choose them over cut stalks when they are available.

Rhubarb is easily stored in plastic wrap and will keep up to one week in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

Both cooked and raw rhubarb freeze well. To blanch rhubarb, cut firm tender stalks into 1- or 2-inch pieces and place them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove rhubarb from boiling water and place in cold water. Once drained, it’s ready to be stored in sealed containers in the freezer.

If you want to presweeten your rhubarb before freezing, pack blanched rhubarb in containers and pour cold syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup water) over the rhubarb, leaving 1‚Ñ2 inch headspace. It can then be labeled and frozen.

In preparation, the leaves should be removed and discarded. Leaves are poisonous and are not safe for consumption. Stalks should be rinsed and trimmed from both the base and tip. The stalks may be peeled or cut with the skin intact and should not be cooked in aluminum pots due to its acidic nature.

Rhubarb can be teamed up with fresh strawberries for wonderful pies and jellies. It can also be stewed gently and served warm over ice cream and makes a tasty filling for frozen puff pastry. Use your imagination and have fun.

Recipes from local cookbooks

Rhubarb Bars

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1‚Ñ4 cup water

3 to 4 cups rhubarb, chunked

11‚Ñ2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of cinnamon and salt

Blend cornstarch with water and mix with rest of ingredients. Cook until thick.

Crumb Mixture:

11‚Ñ2 cups oatmeal

11‚Ñ2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks margarine

1‚Ñ2 cup chopped nuts

Mix together until crumbly. Put 2‚Ñ3 of mixture into lightly greased 9x13-inch pan. Pour rhubarb mixture over crumbs. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Recipe contributed by JoAnn Johnson to “Bethel’s Best 2001,” by Bethel Lutheran Church.

Rosy Rhubarb Puff

3 cups chopped rhubarb

1 pint strawberries, cut up

11‚Ñ2 to 2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons water

Mix above in a 9-inch pan and cook 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1‚Ñ3 cup oil

2‚Ñ3 cup milk

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Stir in oil and milk until mixture forms a ball and cleans sides of bowl. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot fruit. Sprinkle dough with sugar, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with cream if desired.

Recipe published in “The Dining Car: Shenango Street Station.”

Rhubarb Cream Pie

11‚Ñ2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons enriched flour

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 well-beaten eggs

3 cups cut rhubarb

1 recipe plain pastry or frozen pie dough

Blend sugar, flour, nutmeg and butter. Add eggs, beat until smooth. Pour over rhubarb in 9-inch pastry-lined pie pan. Top with pastry. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes.

Recipe contributed by Idabelle Gates to “Favorite Recipes from our Best Cooks,” by Trumbull Baptist Neighborhood Ministries.

One-Crust Rhubarb Custard Pie

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

3 to 4 cups diced rhubarb

2 slightly beaten egg yolks (save egg whites)

11‚Ñ2 cups sugar

1‚Ñ4 teaspoon salt

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

Meringue

2 egg whites

3‚Ñ4 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons sugar

Mix together egg yolks. Add sugar, salt and cornstarch. Mix well until coated. Put into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes until rhubarb is soft and custard is bubbly.

Meringue:

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar. When in soft peaks, add sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Published in “Angels and Friends: Favorite Recipes.”

Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly

5 cups rhubarb, cut small

4 cups sugar

1 small package wild strawberry gelatin

Let rhubarb and sugar stand overnight. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from stove. Add gelatin and mix well. Seal in jars.

Recipe contributed by Wanda Frost to “Lisbon, Ohio: Feeders Digest,” by the Ladies Missionary Society.

Rhubarb Cake

13‚Ñ4 cups sugar

1 cup cooking oil

2 cups rhubarb, cut up

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

3 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1‚Ñ2 cup chopped nuts

1 teaspoon baking soda

Beat together sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer until thick and creamy. Sift together flour and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients into creamy mixture. Add rhubarb, orange peel and nuts. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured 13x10-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Recipe contributed by Betty Behnke to “Cook With Us: Hubbard Conservation Club.”

Rhubarb Juice

11‚Ñ2 pounds rhubarb, cut up

1 cup sugar

1 quart water

Cook until tender. Strain or squeeze through double thickness of cheesecloth. Add 1 cup sugar.

Published in “Our Daily Bread,” by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Rhubarb Punch

6 cups chilled rhubarb juice

1‚Ñ2 cup sugar

1‚Ñ3 cup orange juice

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 quart soda-water or ginger ale.

Few grains salt

Pour over ice and serve immediately

Published in “Our Daily Bread,” by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Rhubarb-Custard Pie

11‚Ñ2 cups sugar

1‚Ñ4 cup all-purpose flour

1‚Ñ4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Dash of salt

3 eggs, beaten

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch slices

2 pie crusts

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt together. Add to the beaten eggs. Beat until smooth. Stir in rhubarb. Prepare pastry for 9-inch lattice-top pie. Line pie pan with one pastry and fill with rhubarb mixture. Dot with butter. Adjust lattice top and seal. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

Recipe contributed by Tracy Godoy to, “Recipes to Remember: Personal Favorites,” sponsored by Local 717 Women’s Committee.

More Recipes from other sources

Rhubarb Conserve

6 cups rhubarb

5 cups sugar

Juice of one lemon

1 No. 2 can grated pineapple juice

Grated rind of 2 oranges

Cook all ingredients for 11‚Ñ2 hours. Add 1‚Ñ2 cup blanched almonds. Put in jars and seal.

Recipe contributed by Jane Gent, to “To the Town’s Taste: The Community Shares Its Recipes,” by The Women’s Association of the First Presbyterian Church, Fredonia, New York.

Rhubarb Crisp

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

3‚Ñ4 cup quick oats

1‚Ñ2 cup melted butter

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix first four ingredients and put three-quarters of the mixture in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Save remainder of mixture for the topping. Put cut up rhubarb on top of brown sugar/oatmeal mixture. In saucepan, mix water, sugar and cornstarch and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil, thickens and turns clear. Remove from stove. Add vanilla and pour over the rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake 60 minutes.

Recipe submitted by Bonnie Glick, of Massillon, to ourohio.com.

Rhubarb Dream Dessert

Crust:

1 cup sifted flour

1‚Ñ2 cup softened butter

5 tablespoons powdered sugar

Topping:

2 eggs, beaten

1‚Ñ4 cup flour

1 cup sugar

3 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and powdered sugar. Blend together with butter. Press mixture into 8x10-inch pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Combine all topping ingredients and spoon onto baked crust. Bake 30 minutes until browned and set. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe submitted by Mary Hellwarth, of Celina, to ourohio.com.

Rhubarb Salad

2 cups chopped rhubarb

11‚Ñ2 cups water

1 6-ounce package strawberry gelatin

2‚Ñ3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice

2 medium tart apples, diced

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cook rhubarb in water until tender and broken up. Remove from stove. Stir in gelatin, jam and sugar. Add pineapple juice and chill until partially set. Stir in apple and nuts. Pour into 9x13-inch dish and cool until completely set.

Recipe submitted by Mary Finney, of Kenton, to ourohio.com.

Rhubarb Bread

1 cup packed brown sugar

2‚Ñ3 cup oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

21‚Ñ2 cups flour

1‚Ñ2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

11‚Ñ2 cups finely chopped rhubarb

2‚Ñ3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together sugar and oil. Blend in egg, vanilla and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to moist ingredients. Stir in rhubarb and nuts. Divide batter between two greased loaf pans. Bake 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean.

Recipe submitted by Nancy Daugherty, of Cortland, to ourohio.com.

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