It’s June, the weather is warming, there’s been plenty of rain (!) and the rhubarb is looking on top of the world. From the small knuckles of underground potential, huge forests have grown in a few short weeks and now, in a Jurassic corner of the fruit cage, garden or allotment a jungle threatens to swamp any passing gardeners.
If this sounds familiar then maybe you, like me, need some new ways to turn your rhubarb riot into snacks, puddings and store-cupboard treasures. Here’s my old favourites and some new twists to help you turn excess into success…
1. Rhubarb and Ginger Compote
This is one of my favourite ways of cooking rhubarb. It’s so simple and can be used as the basis for many other recipes and meals.
4/5 stems of rhubarb, washed and chopped
3 pieces of stem ginger and some of the ginger syrup from the jar
Put the chopped rhubarb in an ovenproof dish. Add the stem ginger chopped into small pieces and 1-2 tbsps of syrup (to taste).
Roast in the oven at 180 °C until the rhubarb is soft (usually around 30 minutes).
The compote can be added to porridge, natural yoghurt and used as the base for crumble. We have also been known to add it to heated leftover homemade chocolate birthday cake to make chocolate fudge cake and rhubarb (a particularly fine pudding).
2. Rhubarb and Mint Jam
We first made this jam last year for the school plant stall as we were selling food (alongside the plants) with herbs as the theme. The idea was to include herbs in the produce and then for the fete-goers to guess what the herb was (part of my attempt to get people smelling, tasting and growing all things herbal.) The jam was so successful that all the jars went at the beginning of the day, with only the tasting jar left for samples!
1kg rhubarb, chopped
1kg granulated sugar
Large bunch of mint leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
Leave chopped rhubarb layered with the sugar in a bowl overnight. Next day, add the rhubarb and sugar mixture to a preserving pan and add the mint leaves tied together in a bunch. Cook gently until the rhubarb is softened (about 30 minutes).
Remove the mint and bring the mixture to the boil. Cook over a high heat until it reaches setting point (105°C). Leave to stand for 10 minutes, stir in the chopped mint, pour into sterilized jars and seal. Enjoy on toast or scones with jam and cream.
3. Rhubarb Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
I love baking cupcakes for the kids – especially when we can fold treasures from the garden into them, like tiny alpine strawberries, blueberries, Chilean guavas or, in this case, rhubarb.
All the recipes in this blog are gluten free (I live in a Coeliac/gluten free household), but the cake mix would work just as well with ordinary self-raising flour.
12 pieces of rhubarb, roasted until soft (recipe makes 12 cupcakes)
3 eggs, weighed
Equal weight gluten-free self-raising flour as the eggs
Equal weight golden caster sugar
Equal weight softened butter
A few drops of vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
125g butter at room temperature
2-4 tsp milk
Mix the equal weight of eggs, caster sugar, flour and butter in a blender or with a hand whisk. Spoon into cupcake cases, adding a piece of roasted rhubarb to the centre of each cake. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the edge comes out clean (rather than the middle as then the skewer will hit the rhubarb.)
Top with swirls of cinnamon buttercream icing (whisk the butter and icing sugar together with 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon mixed in and add 2-4 tsp of milk to soften to desired consistency) as a sweet contrast with the tart rhubarb in the centre. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy!
4. Rhubarb and Apple Sponge
This one is a family favourite with whatever fruit happens to be in supply from the garden or allotment. (I secretly even prefer it to rhubarb crumble.)
4 stems of rhubarb, chopped
2 cooking apples, cored, peeled and chopped
A handful of raisins or sultanas
Splash of water
115g unsalted butter
115g golden caster sugar
115g ground almonds
Stewing the fruit
Gently stew the apples, rhubarb and raisins in a little water, stirring as they cook (takes abut 30 minutes). I don’t tend to add sugar as the topping is sweet, but additional sugar can be added to the stewing fruit to taste.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the ground almonds. When the fruit is soft, put it in an ovenproof dish and cover gently with the sponge mix. Cook at 170°C for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with yoghurt, cream or ice cream.
5. Rhubarb, Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet
I love recipes which celebrate seasonal produce. This one uses produce from the garden, allotment and hedgerows, and epitomises the taste of summer.
200g strawberries, halved
5 tbsp. elderflower cordial (I used my homemade cordial, but any undiluted elderflower cordial would work well)
50g sugar (could add more if preferred – we like fairly sharp sorbets)
Roast the rhubarb and strawberries in the cordial at 180°C until the fruit is soft (about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven, cool and blend to a smooth paste. Put in the freezer for at least 2 hours (until the mix has partly frozen). Take out and mash the sorbet with a fork to break it up or mix in a food processor. Repeat process 2/3 times and then the sorbet is ready to serve in a gluten-free cone, on its own or as an accompaniment to other desserts.
6. Green Rhubarb Salsa with Mackerel Paté on Toast
This is a lovely summery lunch or snack, packed full of omega 3. The tartness of the salsa complements the salty fish paté perfectly.
4 smoked mackerel fillets
250 cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
50g rhubarb (1/2 stem)
1 chilli (I used the first chilli of the season – a ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ which has a medium heat, but any chilli or amount of chilli can be used depending on tastes)
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch salt and pepper
Mix the finely diced rhubarb, cucumber, shallot and chilli. Add the sugar, lime juice, salt and black pepper. Mix together. Leave for an hour to marinate.
Put the flaked mackerel, cream cheese and lemon juice in a food processor and mix until smooth.
Serve the pate on toast with salsa on the side.
7. Spicy Rhubarb Relish
Cheese and crackers with relish or pickles is a favourite supper of mine. So I’m always after tasty recipes to liven up pre-bedtime snacks.
200g rhubarb (about 2 stems)
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
50g muscavado sugar
50ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp turmeric
Large pinch salt
Fry spices in oil, stirring well until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add crushed garlic and chopped chilli and fry gently for a few minutes.
Add chopped rhubarb, diced onion, vinegar, salt and sugar to a pan with the fried spices. Cook over a low heat until the rhubarb is soft and the relish thickens (about 30 minutes). Bottle in sterilized jar (makes one small jar.) Store in the fridge for up to a month.
8. Rhubarb and Banana Smoothie
The kids love smoothies and they are a great way to use up left over fruit and old bananas. I use our rhubarb ‘Champagne’ rather than our ‘Timperley Early’ for this recipe as the stems tend to be thinner, less fibrous and sweeter.
3 very ripe bananas
1 large stalk of young rhubarb, with the skin peeled off
4 dessertspoons of natural yoghurt (we used our homemade yoghurt which we’ve been making for a year or so, but any natural yoghurt would be fine)
Chop the rhubarb into 5cm pieces and add to a blender with the yoghurt and bananas broken into 2/3 pieces. Blend until smooth. We didn’t need to strain ours, but if there are any fibrous strands in the mix then strain before serving.
Generally the smoothie is sweet enough to please the kids because of the ripe bananas, but if it needs further sweetening, runny honey can be added to taste.
These recipes will hopefully help you deal with some surplus rhubarb and then, when you’ve given so much away that your friends hide when they see you coming, maybe it’s time to line up the jam, relish and smoothie in the fridge and admit defeat until next year 😉
I really enjoy trying out new recipes and inventing meals with ingredients from the garden, allotment and from foraging trips. If you have enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe to get more recipes in later posts. If you have other lovely ways to use lots of rhubarb do leave me a comment. My rhubarb just keeps on coming, so I need as many recipes as possible!
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