It’s the most wonderful time of the year – rhubarb harvesting! Maybe a close second to the garlic harvest or the the tomato harvest. And it just happens that my rhubarb is a gigantic monster this year, so this will be the first of a few harvests!
One of my very first posts on this blog last year was about rhubarb where I talked about growing it and preserving it. This year I don’t have a ton of time, so a bit of rhubarb got cut up, bagged up, and stuck in the freezer. But some of it got made in to rhubarb sauce for ice cream.
This is one of those recipes that is reminiscent of my childhood living in the country. It makes me think of the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. It’s a good thing. To make it, just cut rhubarb in to about 1 inch bits, add to a pot with a little bit of water (enough to just cover the bottom of the pot), and as much sugar or sweetener as you like. Simmer it on the stove, stirring every now and then, until it is quite thick and the rhubarb has broken down. Let it cool and store in the fridge in a jar, and when you’re ready, dump as much as you like over top of vanilla ice cream. If you happen to have quite a bit of liquid in your rhubarb sauce, you can reserve a bit of it to add to lemonade, fizzy water, or ginger ale.
I’ll be thankful for this rhubarb in the dead of winter. To freeze, just wash, dry, cut and bag the rhubarb.
I still have a tonne of rhubarb to harvest! I am eying a few recipes in this book I got for my birthday, so I’m hoping to try a few of them out. Do you have any favorite rhubarb recipes? I’d love to hear about them!
Unfortunately I’ve come down with a spring cold, so while I’d prefer to be outside cleaning up my beds, planting my spinach and radishes, or just enjoying the lovely weather, I’ve been stuck inside feeling terrible and living in front of the television (it doesn’t sound that terrible, but trust me, it got old after the first day). Anyway, before this curse arrived, I was able to get outside and snap a few photos of things growing in the garden last week.
The first flowers to bloom in my garden are always these tiny crocuses. I remind myself every year to plant more in the fall but I always seem to forget when the time comes. I think once the remaining grass in our front yard is removed, I’ll make sure to plant a ton of different crocuses along the front of the beds.
My prickly rose (also known as the Alberta Wild Rose) is the first of my roses to get leaves (I left the berries on for the birds but it seems they didn’t want them). I wrote about this rose in one of my very first blog posts last year here. I can’t wait until the intoxicating smell of the flowers arrives again!
This isn’t the prettiest sight from my front yard, but the tulips and alliums are coming up through last year’s corpses that I still need to clean up. The tulips will be blooming in a couple of short weeks.
The rhubarb is going to be way bigger than last year, I can already tell.
I wish I had more energy for a longer post, but I am going to attempt to nurse this cold in hopes that it will go away.
Is anything coming up in your garden?
Words cannot express how excited I am to be heading back in to the garden for a new season! I’ve got all sorts of plants growing inside of the house (peppers, a few brassicas, marigolds, and I will be starting my tomatoes this weekend!) and I find myself sneaking glances at the back yard whenever I can, imagining it bursting with life and color in just a few short months.
It really doesn’t look like much now, but things are actually starting to grow! I noticed about a week ago that there were some green chives popping up, which led me to do a bit more exploring, and this is when I discovered that the rhubarb was also making an appearance! In addition, buds are on my lilac bushes! This is exciting of course because it means spring is here, but mostly because it is still so early! I have never experienced such a mild winter and early spring in this climate. I know that we will probably see a few more snow falls yet (some small ones in the forecast for today and this weekend) but I can totally deal with that – we are in the home stretch now!
Chives making an appearance!
I’m usually not doing much in the garden this time of year because it is normally still covered in snow and/or ice. But since we somehow won the lottery this year and it currently has no snow or ice, I decided to do the first round of garbage clean up last week. I’m not talking dead plants or leaves or whatever – I’m talking actual garbage. Candy wrappers, latex gloves, cigarette butts (so, so many), underwear (yes, I found a pair of underwear), among other things. I filled a kitchen sized garbage bag from the front yard alone. There were only a few pieces of garbage in the back yard and I haven’t even tackled the alley yet, but I imagine it will fill another bag. Even though I was just picking up trash, it felt good to get outside in the yard. I’ll do a bit more this next week if the weather wants me to – more garbage pick-up, cleaning out what I left behind in one of the raised beds, raking the tiny bit of front lawn. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll head to the garden centre and buy some bags of manure to add to my raised beds.
Rhubarb poking its head out!
Are you doing anything in the garden yet?
Rhubarb is one of my favorite things in the spring time. This is the first year that I’ve had a real good harvest from my rhubarb plant. The first year and second year it was in a raised bed but I ended up moving the bed last year in order to make space to build our greenhouse, so the plant got moved to a different location in my yard – which was actually a good thing because it was a better area. I harvested a few stalks last year but I didn’t want to put too much stress on the plant, so it was mostly left alone. But this year it was an absolute monster, which is basically what you want your rhubarb plant to be.
Growing rhubarb is really simple and the plant will last for many years (I’ve often noticed rhubarb plants in front of abandoned farm houses where any other evidence of a garden is long gone). I don’t do much with my rhubarb plant except top dress with a little compost in the spring or fall and cut off any seed heads that pop up. My only advice is to give your rhubarb plant a very big area to grow – mine is about 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
Rhubarb plant as of June 23, 2014
Usually I just turn the rhubarb into a sauce for topping vanilla ice cream – simmer chopped rhubarb with lots of sugar and a little bit of water in a pot on the stove until the sauce has thickened (about 20-30 minutes) and store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week. Sometimes I take a little bit of the liquid from this recipe and use it as a syrup for adding to fizzy drinks like ginger ale. But this year I decided to try some new recipes – and also I’ve been getting more into preserving the last few years. I cannot rave enough about blogger and author Marisa McClellan. I discovered her blog www.foodinjars.com just over a year ago and immediately bought her first book Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round. The reason I love it so much is for 3 reasons. 1: I haven’t found a bad recipe in it. 2: Small batches! Perfect for a family of two. 3: It is organized by season which the obsessive organizer in me loves. This year she just put out another canning book which I am also in love with called Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces. And this is where I tried two of her recipes. The first was for a rhubarb and rosemary jelly and the second was for a rhubarb chutney.
Rhubarb & Rosemary Jelly and Rhubarb Chutney
Both of these preserves are amazing and go so well with some fancy crackers and fresh soft goat cheese. The recipes I used were from the book but I found similar recipes on her website which sound delicious as well: Marisa’s Rhubarb Chutney recipe can be found here and her recipe for Rosemary Rhubarb Jam can be found here.
What are your favorite rhubarb recipes? I would love to know!