Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rhubarb season!

I love spring. For me, spring means the beginning of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, something that I look forward to all winter! One of the first things to be ready in my garden (actually to be more specific, in my mom's garden) is rhubarb. This year our rhubarb was superb! Very flavorful and juicy, perfect to make all my favorite recipes!

As a kid, I used to love dipping the rhubarb stalks in a bowl of sugar and just eating it like that. To me it was like eating candy. Of course, my mom would also make the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie, the strawberry rhubarb jam and the rhubarb crisp all of which would put a huge smile on my face. My mom would also freeze several bags of cut rhubarb so that we could enjoy delicious deserts all winter long. Although I would love to do the same, space is at a premium in my little freezer so that's not a possibility.  
So this year I decided to try something a little different. I am a big fan of apple sauce and with cookies as a last minute low-key dessert so I decided to try something similar but with rhubarb and I decided to can it to save space (let's face it, space is also at a premium in my fridge!).
With some help from my mom (over the phone) I tried to work on a recipe that would be quick and easy to make. If the whole canning things scares you, you can also just place it in mason jars and leave it in the fridge (it should last a couple of weeks).

So here it is, I hope you'll enjoy!

Rhubarb compote:

12 cups of rhubarb stalks finely chopped (1/2 inch)
1 cup of sugar (can be a little less or a little more depending on how sweet you like your rhubarb)
1/4 cup of water

In a large saucepan, place your finely chopped rhubarb (this time I used my food processor and it was great, it took less than 5 minutes to cut up all of it!), the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft. Set aside.

In the meantime, prepare your canning pot. Place 7 clean 250 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F). Set screw bands aside. Heat sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.
Ladle hot compote into a hot jar to within 1 inch of top of jar (headspace). Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining pie filling.

When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (please check the Bernadin website for more information), process –boil filled jars – 15 minutes.

When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands (this may damage the seal!).

After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

Serve warm over ice cream or on its own with oatmeal cookies!


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