Sunday, 6 February 2011


Rhubarb that much maligned food which for some has some horror stories to tell.  I like rhubarb though and was introduced to it at a very early age being allowed to pick a stalk of rhubarb from my Nan's garden  and then being allowed to dip it into the sugar bowl.  Oh what a treat as normally the sugar bowl was out of bounds.
I was lucky to have been bought up by a family who enjoyed good food and with many good cooks.  Rhubarb was nearly always on the pudding list as were apples, plums and gooseberries.  In fact I remember my Mum and My Nan every year having a bottling frenzy and putting up good things for the winter months so that the family would eat well.  In fact these delicacies often swapped households, as one member of the family had done this and another member hadn' and it enabled change of flavours, and perhaps a mental note to make that particular preserve another year.

For many years I did not use rhubarb simply because whosoever I was with didn't like it, but my current partner actually likes it, so it is firmly established on my cooking repertoire. I like it well enough myself and  I am always looking for different ways to use items. I also pre-plan items for The Pantry to be used in the deepest darkest months and also throughout the year.  Its so lovely just going into The Pantry and locating an essential item for using within that night's meal whether it be the main course or the dessert and without having to go to a supermarket or shop.   Being thrifty, and economical and making the most of those bargains that come your way is all part of the process even if it only means bottling an odd jar here or there, but it soon builds up and I for one am quite chuffed with whatever I manage to get done knowing that  there are no nasties only good fresh food to start with.  But oh what a jar and oh what flavours makes the time and effort in processing these goodies all the more worthwhile.

I intend to try and Put Down those special seasonal items month by month, where I can and money permitting.  I procured my Seville Oranges, to make my Seville Orange Marmalade and my Seville Orange Curd.  I have other recipes that I wish to try and so will carry on looking for a few extra in order that I can have a go at these recipes.  Rhubarb was next on my wish list.

I have managed to acquire about 6lb forced pink rhubarb from the veg shop quite cheaply which I intend to bottle (I paid £1 per pack but have recently seen it at £2.99 a pack so was quite chuffed with this little find to add to The Pantry Shelf).  I intend to bottle it in a light syrup. .

How to Bottle Rhubarb
Quite simply you prepare the Rhubarb  (6lb of) and soak overnight in a sugar syrup  made from 1lb  4oz sugar  and 2 1/2 pints of water (this helps the fruit keep its shape especially more fragile ones like strawberries and also apparently stops them rising in the jar (we will wait and see on that one). The water together with the sugar is bought to the boil and simmered for a couple of minutes in order that the sugar is completely dissolved this forms the syrup.  

Meanwhile whilst the sugar syrup is heating through  process the rhubarb by washing it and  taking the ends off each stalk and then chopped into 1 inch pieces.  Then place the Rhubarb into a large bowl and then the syrup is poured over.  I put a plate over the top to keep the Rhubarb down and submerged  and then cling film it and leave overnight in a cool place.  

Tomorrow I shall process the Rhubarb in its bottles and will post the rest of the instructions then.

Strain off the soaked fruit separating the fruit out without any juice let it drain well.  Strain the juice through a nylon sieve or a jelly bag.  Put the juice/syrup into a saucepan and bring to the boil this will kill off any nasties.

Meanwhile put your preserving jars,[ I use the new Kilner ones, but Liefheit or the Bomolori (think that's how you spell it) or the older Kilner jars can also be used ]into the dishwasher and sterilise by putting on a hot cycle.  Try and time your jars coming out of the dishwasher nice and hot with packing the drained fruit into the jars.  Pack tightly, I used the end of a wooden spoon to rearrange and pack in the little stems of rhubarb Pour in the hot boiling syrup into the jars, and seal with the lids. 

Into a large pan put a hand towel or tea towels or dishcloths to wadd the bottom of the pan pour on boiling water.  Pop in jars so that they don't touch - if they do pad them with a dischloth as otherwise this can lead to breakage of the jars and we don't want that after all the effort we have been to. Turn the locking ring back a quarter of a turn before processing in the hot water bath. Cover completely with water until the jars are submerged.This method is often referred to as the hot water bath method and by submerging the bottles completely I have not so far had a seal not set.

Bring to a continuous rolling boil, test the temperature of the water until it reaches 90 degrees C and process for 3 minutes.  Take out the pan and leave on a wooden board to cool down.  When cold test the seal with the kilner or Liefheit seals there will be no movement in the metal sealing lid - if there is the preserve needs to go back into the hot water bath for reprocessing. Always follow the relevant manufacturers instructions for using the bottles. Tighten the jars up the extra turn that you took off before leaving to cool.

Please note that it is quite normal for the rhubarb to lose quite a bit of its colour, the syrup taking on most of the colour. It does look pretty and it does taste lovely. There may be some extra syrup left over you can freeze this in ice cubes and then serve with a shot of vodka in the summer or freeze in bags and bring out on a summer day as an alternative cold drink or by adding a litte more sugar and processing it as a cordial

This made 6 of the smaller Kilner jars and will be lovely as is served in the syrup, or by dissolving some gelatine in and turning it into a rhubarb jelly, a rhubarb sponge, a rhubarb mousse, rhubarb pie or rhubarb crumble.  

Will have t see if I can get some more at such a good price in due course.

I have also this eveing processed a bottle of blueberries, and two bottles of blackberries.  Some more goodies for the pantry shelf.




  1. I love rhubarb, it arrived in my life very early too, one of my aunts had a patch in her garden and my cousins and I had a stick each and a saucer of sugar to dip it in - same sort of memory as you have:)

  2. Hi Rowan, do you know why they gave us this. I understand from my Nan that the reason we were allowed this little perk was that it was a good way of keeping you "regular". I still have horrific memories of having to have Syrup of Figs every so often too and the Virol (Cod Liver Oil and Malt - Yuk). So there was always a method in the adults madness.

    Hope you okay



  3. I like rhubarb too, and also used to dip it in my Nan's sugar bowl! (We have a lot in common from childhood). I got a crown of rhubarb for my garden last year and I'm hoping the cold winter hasn't seen it off as I'm looking forward to cooking with it.
    I got some seville's from Tesco this week as they were on offer 1Kg for £1.50 (half price) - I've frozen them 'till I'm ready to make marmalade. I made some lemon curd today and like the sound of your seville orange curd - any chance you could post the recipe please Tricia?

    Best wishes as always
    Rose H xx

  4. You had Cod Liver Oil and Malt? I did too, but I liked it. It always sat on top of the mantel with a spoon close by.
    I had a rhubarb crumble for my Sunday dinner dessert. Last Spring a put several containers in the freezer. I cooked it using Jamie Oliver's recipe, he used some ginger in it, I now love it that way.
    We had 9 inches of snow yesterday (Saturday) so fed up with it, it has been on the ground since the first of December, and we have the rest of February to get through yet. Roll on Spring.

  5. I don't remember having Syrup of Figs but I do remember Virol - I loved it!


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