Preserving Know-how/ Preserving Recipes/ Spring/ Summer

The Gift of Rhubarb


If you have been reading my column for long, you already know rhubarb is probably my favorite spring gift from the garden. It is packed with calcium and Vitamin K, is gorgeous in colour, and can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It has also been used for medicinal purposes in cultures around the world for the last 3,000 years. I’m always on the look-out for ways to cook with and preserve rhubarb.

Harvesting: The petioles or stalks are the portion of the plant used for culinary purposes. As you no doubt are aware, the leaves are poisonous due to their high levels of oxalic acid. The stalks are “pulled” not cut which helps keep the plant producing. If you can’t immediately use the stalks, clean, trim and refrigerate.

Canniing: Rhubarb is very acidic (pH 3.1) so it is excellent for water bath or steam canning. Stewed or cooked with a small amount of water, a 500 ml jar with ½ inch headspace should be processed for 15 minutes adjusting for altitude. Rhubarb canning recipes abound. They may include jams, jelly, grilling sauces, chutney, marmalade, conserves, and compotes.

Freezing: Rhubarb freezes very well. It can be cleaned, trimmed, cut into small pieces and frozen raw or blanched and first. Some people enjoy freezing rhubarb in syrup.

Drying: Rhubarb can be dried and later pulverized into powder. The powder adds a punch to sauces, meat preparations, stews, and soups. Rhubarb alone with combined with strawberries make great fruit leathers. You can use the pulp remaining after you extract the juice for jelly or drinks. For each 1 cup pulp add 1 cup honey or sweeten to your taste. The leathers may be dried in a dehydrator or in an oven on warm with the door propped open. When they are dry and leathery, allow them to fully dry, cut into strips and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in a cool, dark place.

This week I stumbled on an interesting recipe on the Bernardin website (not in the book).

This is rhubarb season so jump into the many possibilities of cooking with and preserving this vegetable!

Spring Celebration Jam

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  • 2 cups crushed strawberries (about a quart)
  • ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 ¾ cups finely chopped rhubarb (about ½ lb)
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice (bottled)
  • 7 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin



Prepare 7 250ml jars (washed and kept hot)


Wash strawberries, remove stems and crush one layer at a time to measure 2 cups.


In a pot, combine mint leaves and water. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let the “tea” steep for 10 minutes. Strain, removing the leaves.


Finely chop rhubarb or use a food processor get a fine chop. Add the rhubarb to the mint water. Return to the boil and cook about 2 minutes to soften the rhubarb. Add strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Stir in the liquid pectin, mixing well and skim.


Ladle into jars leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean. Affix lids and rings to finger-tip tight. Process in a water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check seals.

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