Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rhubarb Butter

Rhubarb is an interesting ... er ... plant. It's a bit of a paradox. Botanically a vegetable, but in the US, it's legally considered a fruit. It's usually paired with something sweet, like strawberries, and it's seldom used by itself. It needs a lot of sugar before most people would consider it dessert-worthy, but it's almost always used for desserts. The stalks are edible, but the leaves are poisonous.

And it's one of those foods that people tend to love or hate.

Rhubarb was something I didn't grow up with, so it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon. Maybe if I knew just how tart it was, I might have started using it sooner.

Once you've made all the rhubarb-strawberry tarts and crumbles and pies that you want to eat, you might have some rhubarb left. A little goes a long way. Rhubarb butter - not like the fatty kind of butter, but more like apple butter or apple sauce - is a good way to use it up. It's simple to make, and it stores well in the refrigerator.

You can adjust this recipe up, down or sideways, depending on how much rhubarb you have. A pound of rhubarb will need 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you want it. I'd suggest leaving it a little bit tart - you can add more sugar later, if you need it sweeter for a particular recipe.

Rhubarb Butter

1 pound of rhubarb
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

Clean the rhubarb stalks and cut it into chunks. Place them in a non-reactive pan, and add enough water to come about 1/4 to 1/3 way of the way up the rhubarb. It will release more water as it cooks. Cook, stirring as needed, until the rhubarb is soft.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and adjust sugar and salt amounts to taste.

Let the rhubarb cool for easier handling. Puree it in a blender, or use a stick blender or food processor, if you prefer. For a very smooth texture, pass the puree through a fine sieve.

Put the puree into a container and chill. Keep refrigerated.

But what can you do with this?

  • Add it to sparkling water or seltzer for a refreshing summer drink.
  • Add it to iced tea to make a Rhubarb Arnold Palmer instead of the traditional lemonaid version.
  • Use it to make a sweet-sour sauce for savory dishes.
  • Add it to fruit pies.
  • Serve it over ice cream.
  • Use it for mixed drinks the same way you'd use citrus.


Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

How do you still have rhubarb in season, you lucky gal? It's completely gone here, except for some sad stalks of suspicious provenance in the grocery store.

Donna Currie said...

Huh. At my old house we had a rhubarb plant that was trying to eat the neighborhood. It was in the back corner of the yard, in our neighbor's yard, and it spread into the alley. It was there every year until winter killed it off. It was one of the first things that came up every year, but it was pretty much nonstop all year long. Back then, I was more interested in trying to kill it off than cook it, though ;-)

I made the butter a week or so ago, and finally got around to using it.

In theory, rhubarb should be for sale all year, but I think most people look for it in the spring. Then again it doesn't like crazy heat, either, so it's probably not a good year for it in most places.

mia xara said...

I've only used it in pies,this is however a great idea!Thank you for all the suggestions too!!Have a good week, Donna!

Unknown said...
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porkpan said...

Is the sugar added with the water?

Donna Currie said...

Porkpan, it looks like I lost a paragraph somewhere. I put it back. Thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

will i be able to find rhubarb in June in FL??? I want to make this so badly, but I can't find it in Puerto Rico...

Donna Currie said...

Rhubarb is considered a spring vegetable because that's when you see it sprouting in home gardens. In reality, thought, it's available year-round. The only question is whether stores will stock it. It's not the most popular vegetable.

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