Rhubarb is not just for Pie
Have you ever tasted rhubarb? I bet if you have, it’s been in a pie. With strawberries. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is one of our favorite pies around here. When I make it every spring, it is the sign of the beginning of the pie season. Rhubarb is almost always paired with another fruit. There is a good reason for that. Rhubarb is very tart, with a kind of soda-ey flavor. You have to add a lot of sugar to anything that you make with rhubarb. I’ve always been a little puzzled as to why anyone ever thought to put rhubarb in a pie. I know after a long, hard winter, a person is tempted to eat anything fresh that hasn’t got the aura of being flown in from thousands of miles away. But rhubarb? It just looks like red celery. At least, that’s what my kids say.
Rhubarb is most abundant in the spring, which is why I was surprised to find someone at our farmer’s market selling it a couple of weeks ago. Without really thinking about the fact that strawberries were way gone out of season, I bought a bunch of rhubarb. It looked so nice and red.
Anyway, this often happens to me. I buy something at the market that looks good and then I have to figure out what to do with it so I don’t feel guilty about throwing it away.
I still had some blueberries from when we went blueberry picking, but I wasn’t sure about a blueberry rhubarb combination. What I did have, was one last orange that needed to be used up and a couple tablespoons of grated lemon peel in the fridge. I also had some chopped, crystallized ginger hanging around in the pantry. So, what did I do?
I made jam.
Rhubarb jam with citrus, ginger, and bourbon. Bourbon was kind of a last minute addition. It can’t hurt, right?
And, I have to say, it was pretty yummy. The lemon and the rhubarb together provide the tartness, while the orange gives it a nice sweet dimension. The ginger gives it a little spicy kick at the end.
I think you should try it. Rhubarb is pretty good outside a pie.
Rhubarb jam with citrus, ginger, and bourbon.
1 pound rhubarb, leaves trimmed and discarded, stalks chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced
3 Tablespoons lemon zest plus juice of 1 lemon
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)
Combine all ingredients except bourbon in a stainless pot and stir to mix well. Let stand for 1-3 hours.
Bring to a boil over high heat. then lower heat to med-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until thick. The rhubarb should almost totally break down. Stir often to keep from burning and sticking. The consistency should be just a little bit runnier than you like your jam to be. It will thicken as it cools.
Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon.
Transfer to jars and can it or let it cool and store in fridge for up to a month.
Makes about 4 half pints.