Tag Archives: Rhubarb

All things rhubarb

It’s that time of year again when the rhubarb goes mad. We’ve only got 2 plants but they produce so much. We’ve done so much with rhubarb today that I thought it worthy of a blog post.
I set the kids on ferrying the rhubarb and then cutting off the ends ready to go into the house. I’m keen on teaching them safe knife skills and very happy that Chi ‘graduated’ to using our ‘sharp’ kitchen knife safely. I did have to stop and Google if you should eat rhubarb raw as Rowan kept trying to eat the ends. (You can, it’s just very sharp).

Sam’s request was Finnish rhubarb soup. The Finnish fruit soups are an odd thing, a bit like a coulis but not as sweet and much more runny. It’s eaten as a dessert, ontop of your cereal or just slurped from a mug. It’s basically fruit, sugar, water and potato (corn) flour and shouldn’t be good but it is. I was able to do a quick batch whilst we ate dinner to give us a dessert. Rhubarb soup is best with a dash of milk or cream to take off the sharpness. Here’s how you make it.

Finnish Fruit Soup

1kg fruit
750g Sugar
1 litre water
4 tbsp potato (corn) flour

Heat the fruit, sugar and water until cooked. Add more sugar to adjust sweetness if needed.
Mix the potato flour with a bit of water in a cup and pour into the soup slowly whilst stirring.
Serve warm, can be stored in the fridge.

Chi’s first request was ‘rhubarb juice’. I had made a squash with it the other year which she loved. I dusted off our Mehu Liisa and got to work. It’s basically a steamer with a special section in the middle to collect the juice. It’s a traditional tool in Finnish kitchens, my mother in law brought one over many years go now that has been woefully underused. I think I am getting the hang of it now though.

Rhubarb Cordial

2kg of chopped rhubarb
1.3kg sugar
water

Pop the fruit and sugar in the top section, fill the bottom section half full with water and heat for 45 mins.
Siphon off the juice and pour it over the fruit/sugar mix. Top up the water in the bottom section. Return to the heat for another 45 minutes.
Siphon off the juice into bottles.


I was quite dubious about the Mehu Liisa at first, if you move it whilst heating it spits at you, I managed to burn the bottom half one time and the siphon gets so hot. This batch went really well though, I used a jam pan to collect the siphoned juice at half time and topped up the water to stop burning. I did have a fair amount of sugar in the middle section at the end so I do need to refine things. I love that the juice will store for over a year without pasturising, it comes out so hot that it is sterile. I only got 3 750ml bottles though, I’d love to be able to get more each batch.

A bit too much sugar left over

¬†Lastly I made some rhubarb and cinnamon jam. I managed to squeeze it whilst the Mehu Liisa was on it’s first round of heating. It was meant to be a rhubarb and vanilla recipe but I mixed up vanilla and cinnamon. It makes a really nice jam that I found tastes a bit like coca cola if you let it mature. I loved it on my porridge.

Rhubarb and Cinnamon jam

1.3kg rhubarb
1.3kg jam sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon

Combine the rubarb, sugar and cinnamon sticks, gently heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Add lemon juice, raise the heat and bring to the boil.
Stir regularly for about 10 minutes, removing the froth.
Check if it’s reached setting point.
Pour into sterile jars

Made 5 380ml jars

I’m going to look forward to eating this lot.

I had wanted to make some of the Finnish rhubarb cake but I ran out of time today. That plus rhubarb vodka and rhubarb gin makes up all of my rhubarb recipes.

What do you like doing with rhubarb?

Adventures with rhubarb

So this year we haven’t been doing as much with growing but there are two very prolific rhubarb bushes just by our bedroom window. I’ve never been very good at using rhubarb. I tried for several years to do rhubarb wine and it has bested me every time. For some reason I always get a smell and taste of old socks from it. One day I will try again and I will master a rhubarb wine. My only other experiment with rhubarb is the Finnish fruit soup which comes out ok but does need cream or milk with it. I planned to change that this year.

I started with the Finnish fruit cake I do but doing first an apple and rhubarb and then a rhubarb on it’s own. They were both lovely but the I really like the solo rhubarb one. Unfortunately I haven’t mastered a gluten free cake yet, the only gluten free flour our Tescos does is Doves farm and it just comes out too thick, even with extra baking powder. I tried the Tesco cake mix but due to not checking the ingredients it just came out as a molten sugar mess, my biggest baking disaster yet, it actually got scraped into the bin. I’ve bought some flour from Morrisons though and I’ll give the Tesco cake mix another try but without adding sugar. Fingers crossed I can make a decent tasting cake that my body approves of. Home made cake with home made custard is just so lovely.

The next step was some jam. I made jam late last year for the first time and really enjoyed it, but for some reason I have had cold feet about doing jam this year. Which is kind of crazy as I am hoping to be making jams and chutneys for sale next year as an added income from our fruit trees. I finally bit the bullet when Chi was settling in for her first long day at a new nursery. She seemed to be settling well but I wanted to be close to the phone and not too tied into a job. The rhubarb was also getting a bit overgrown at this point too. I’m very glad I gave it a go as it really is simple and Chi had us down to our last jar of jam (blackberry), she really does like jam on her toast and porridge. The rhubarb and vanilla worked well but I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as sharp as I was hoping, in fact it was really a bit too sweet. I’ll try again with less sugar and see if I can get one to our taste. That said Chi loved it on her porridge and Sam enjoyed it on his toast.

The recipe was taken from the BBC and is simply equal amounts of sugar and fruit (1kg) with 2 cinnamon sticks stirred until the sugar dissolves, then the juice of 1 lemon added and proceed as you would for any jam. You do have to scrape the scum off the top though, we used a metal spoon for this and once cool Sam gobbled up the scum! Waste not want not here.

Lastly I’ve had my first go at a cordial. I found this a bit daunting too, but that seems to be a trend for me with new skills. It was really simple once I carved out the time for it, another day of Chi at nursery where other commitments meant I couldn’t get stuck into a big job outside. I used¬† another BBC recipe for this one, using an orange and a lemon as well as rhubarb. I was meant to use ginger too, and even had it in the house, but completely forgot to add it. Maybe for the best as it would be nice for Chi to have this and I’m not sure how the ginger will affect her liking of it.

I have to say that I’m not sure I did it quite right. I did it in the jam pan as that is easy to pour from and I don’t know if the thicker bottom will have affected things. I also think I left it too long. The recipe said ‘until the rhubarb is falling apart’ but I wasn’t sure if that was just some of the rhubarb or all of it so I waited until it was all coming apart. The cordial was very thick. The recipe expected 600ml to be produced but I only got about 250ml until I pressed and squeezed the bag with a metal spoon. I ended up with about 400ml which seems like very little. The rhubarb I used was quite old though, very thick stems, and the weather has been quite dry, so it is possible the fruit itself had less moisture to give. It is lovely and tasty though, maybe a bit more orangey in flavour than I was expecting,. the ginger may balance that out.

I had heard that cordial needs to be stored in the fridge so I called Vigo Presses to see if I can pasteurise it for a longer cupboard storage. We bought our pasteuriser and apple pressing kit from them a couple of years ago and I am still really happy with their customer service. They said I can absolutely pasteurise it but also suggested using a steamer to produce a cordial that will store in the cupboard without pasteurisation.

As I only got 400ml this time I haven’t bothered to pasteurise but we do have a Mehu Liisa in the cupboard that I think I will use to make the next batch of cordial. It came straight from Finland so doesn’t have English instructions but I think I will ask my mother in law or some of our Finnish family for help with it. It looks like it will take a lot longer than just on the hob but it can be left and I like the idea of not having to pasteurise separately. I might also get a better return. I think I’ll do another post about that when I get around to giving it a try.

The only picture I have of the Mehu Liisa in action (blackberries)

Dans

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