Tag Archives: rhubarb

When Sweet and Sour Collide

The days and weeks are blurring together as we continue to self-shelter. The things that make the days distinct from each other are often absent. Monday seems the same as Wednesday, as we work on the farm; not at all sure that our efforts will hit their intended destination. The pandemic has changed virtually every known thing to the unknown. Then, something happens that feels disproportionately meaningful. A delivery of asparagus, from a dear friend’s garden, or eight pounds of beautiful red rhubarb for use in something delicious. These small things are a welcome distraction. I cling to food, love, nature and friendships like a life-line on a sinking ship. There are times when I sit down to write this food blog that I question the why of it; does it even mean anything anymore? But food it what we do here. We wake up thinking about it, and dream about it as we sleep.

When you have a passion, it is so important to continue to keep the faith, and do what you love. It is how each of us affects our environment for the better. Stay present. Do your best. Stay kind. Fight for justice. There is sour as well as sweetness in life; and we must always remember this going forward each day.

So this week I made pasta dishes, grilled, and turned all that lovely asparagus into soup; each dish a celebration of late spring. Then came the rhubarb; the deep red kind that you can only find with the old varieties. I just love the stuff. First, I made a simple syrup for cocktails. Next, I slow roasted some with sugar, white wine and vanilla to serve with maple-yogurt. But the bulk of it was turned into Rhubarb Chutney. Combined with apple cider vinegar, sugar, spices, red onion and golden raisins. Wow! I love how chutneys seem to be a surprise with every mouthful. This can be used with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin or even over ice cream. I cut way back on the sugar, as I feel that what is typically recommended is usually more than my palette can take. This lets the rhubarb shine, while allowing you to appreciate its overall savoriness. I was pleased with the results that yielded 11 half pints. I then processed it in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Beautiful red rhubarb


  • 1/2 cup can sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup (generous) finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins


  1. Combine first 8 ingredients (sugar through red pepper) in heavy Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add rhubarb, onion and golden raisins; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil as you thoroughly mix ingredients.
  3. Cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, 5-8 minutes.
  4. Fill 1/2 pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Attach lids and rings. Water bath process for 15 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely.

Yield: 5-6 jelly jars

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

When Tart & Sweet Collide

It’s one of those days that our wood burner is too warm and the doors and windows are flung open to moderate the heat.  This is what happens when temperatures fluctuate 30 degrees in 12 hours.  But spring throws her curve balls with a great deal of dark humor.  The good news is that the farmers market is brimming with two definite signs that spring is indeed here: asparagus and rhubarb!  I have to hold myself back from purchasing more than I can use, swept away in  the enthusiasm of the moment.

Rhubarb is like a red version of the green celery. … They have thick fleshy edible stalks with a crispy structure resembling that of celery. Their leaves contain a very high level of oxalic acid and are therefore not only inedible, but poisonous. Rhubarbs are often confused with being a fruit because of their sour, tart taste.  But rhubarb is actually a vegetable.  No matter.  Typically Val and I are not sweet or desert eaters; but rhubarb is clearly an exception.  Spring rhubarb with its combination of sweet and tart is just the kind of desert I go crazy over.

Rhubarb is one vegetable that not only freezes beautifully, but will allow you to stock up when the stalks are at their very best.  To freeze, simply cut the stalks in 2 inch lengths, place on a sheet pan and  freeze individually in a single layer; then vacuum seal them in two pound increments until ready to use in tarts, crumbles, pies or in this case a light and delicious version that doesn’t hide its tartness or try to cover it up.



  • 2 pounds fresh rhubarb (look for the read varieties, with crisp red stalks), cut on the diagonal in 2 inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup turbinado (light brown cane sugar)
  • 1/2 cup crisp white wine (I use Pine Ridge  Chenin Blanc & Viognier)
  • 1 vanilla bean split or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce container Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons organic maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons raw pistachios




  1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and reheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven or other deep oven-safe pot.  Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean or extract, and stir to combine.  Bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until very tender, giving the pot a gentle stir about midway throught to ensure that the rhubarb cooks evenly.  Let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, while the rhubarb is roasting, prepare the yogurt.  Whisk together the yogurt with the maple syrup.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  4. In shallow bowls, spoon 1/2 cup of maple yogurt, then top with 4-6 pieces of rhubarb.  Spoon sauce over and around rhubarb and yogurt allowing for distinction for all ingredients.  Top with a few pistachios.

Serves 4-6


“In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” 

Mark Twain