If, like me, you’ve been watching your rhubarb plant get bigger and bigger but you don’t feel like making a pie or jam, here’s what you can do. Just cook the rhubarb. The resulting stewed fruit can be eaten as is, as a topping for ice cream or with granola and yoghurt.
Wash the cut rhubarb stalks and chop into 1½ inch pieces. The following are two ways to cook it. The first is how my mother and I have done it, to eat or freeze. The second is from a recipe for canned rhubarb that I tried, with success, this year.
Rhubarb reacts with aluminum, iron and copper and darkens both rhubarb and utensil. Stainless steel, Teflon and enamel pots, strainers and spoons are fine to use.
1st: Put rhubarb in a pot with just a bit of water so it doesn’t burn on the bottom before it starts making its own juice. Cook on low heat until it’s soft – half an hour? Depends on the amount and the consistency you want. Add sugar to taste. The amount you add depends on what your eventual use for it is. If you plan for it only to be in sweets, add more. If you might use it in a tart chutney or something, add less or none.
When it’s cooked, you can just put it in a bowl in the refrigerator right away or in plastic containers for the freezer.
2nd: To each quart (approx. 4 cups) of chopped rhubarb, add ½ cup sugar. Let stand in pot about half an hour to draw out juice. Cook until tender. Have your jars and lids ready in boiling water. Pack rhubarb with juice in jars, leaving ½ inch headspace in jar. Put on lids and screw tops, then process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. If you have never done canning before, read up on how to sterilize and fill jars. In canning, it’s best to add the sugar in order to help with preserving.
If you really don’t want to do anything with it but hate seeing it go to seed, just cut it up as in the top photo, put the uncooked pieces in a freezer bag or container (don’t overcrowd) and freeze. Worry about it later. You can make pies, jams, chutneys or just cooked fruit from it whenever you want. For baking, follow recipe instructions for frozen fruit.