One bunch of rhubarb well past its prime languished in my crisper. A few unsightly end of season apples picked up from the organic food store sat forlornly on the bench top. Cooking them down was the only option I could see.
I haven’t had much luck baking with rhubarb in the past. As a compote it works just fine but baked into anything it just never has any taste to me. Once I used it with with coconut and pear and produced a cake loaf that was so awful even toasting couldn’t save it.
In any case, I started this with apple jelly in mind and boiled the peels and cores to extract the natural pectin. Then I added the apple and rhubarb and started it simmering. It did not turn into jelly or jam, not even close, however a quick blitz with an immersion blender saved the day and this creation was born.
I canned it because I could, and because it has enough acid to not be too scary. Then I dressed it up in pretty bows and made it pose for far too many photos because it’s Christmas.
I’ve been spreading it on toast and eating it straight from the jar. It sings with cheese and RJ had some with a pork roast the other night. It would be delicious over natural yoghurt or vanilla ice cream. You could add a few eggs or some arrowroot and turn it into curd. You could add a few cups of sugar and make jam. I’m perfectly happy with spread.
In other news, there is a distinct possibility that while I keep using decorations for photos, not a single one has been hung up. We have not purchased a real tree, all three [or are we up to four now?] fake green table top ones are still in boxes somewhere, and I waited too late to get a fake white one… oops. At least it isn’t Christmas Eve yet!
Rhubarb & Apple Spread
Sweetness from the apples, tang from the rhubarb, this is a great way to use up fruit that is a bit past its prime. I canned this to save it for later but you don’t have to. Make sure you don’t miss the ‘Bonus Round’ variations at the end!
- 4 small or 3 medium apples
- 1 bunch rhubarb – approx 6 stalks, leaves removed and discarded
- 4-5 c water, divided
- 1/4 lemon
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 chunk fresh ginger, approx 1cm [1/2 in], bruised gently
Make the sauce:
Peel and core apples. Place peels and cores into a large saucepan with 3 cups of water, juice of 1/4 of a lemon plus the piece of lemon you squeezed the juice from and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely grate apple and chop rhubarb.
Strain apple liquid to remove solids, top up with enough water to reach 3 1/2 cups and return to the pan. Add grated apple, rhubarb, ginger, juice from 1/2 a lemon and bring to a boil. The liquid should just come to the top of the fruit.
Simmer 60 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.
Remove from heat, fish out chunk of ginger and puree sauce. It is best to allow mixture to cool slightly before pureeing so you don’t burn yourself when it splashes – I use an immersion blender, don’t wait and always burn myself when it splashes.
If you don’t want to can [preserve] the sauce for later on you are done. Go make a cheese platter and enjoy. However, if you do want to put some away for later or dress it up to give to friends continue on…
Prepare your jars and equipment for canning:
Bring a large pot of water to the boil when sauce is in its last few minutes of simmering.
Sterilize jars, screw rings and tongs in a dishwasher, or wash with hot soapy water and submerge in the boiling pot for 10 mins. Do not boil lids, simply wash and submerge for 1 minute in the boiling water before placing on the filled jars. Jars need to be hot when the sauce is added to them.
Return pureed sauce to the stove, place a lid on the pot and simmer for 10 minutes more, shaking pan occasionally to move the sauce around but not removing the lid. Because it is thick, the sauce will act like lava, bubbling and plopping everywhere, if you have a lid on it will hit the lid and stay in the pan. If you don’t have a lid on, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Remove lava sauce from heat and leave lid on for a minute until it calms down. Remove jars from water with the sterile tongs and fill with the hot sauce. Make sure there are no bubbles along the sides and jar edges are clean before topping with hot lids. Screw on hot rings to just finger tight.
Return filled jars to boiling water, making sure they are covered by an inch of water. Simmer 10 mins for small jars, 15 mins for medium jars and 20 mins for large jars.
Remove jars from water very carefully and place, right side up, on a rack or tea towel. Do not touch until cool. The lids should pop inwards indicating they are sealed – you can hear the pop, it is very exciting. Mine did this in the first few minutes but people say it can take up to 12 hours. If they don’t pop, store in fridge and use with in a week or two.
Serve with cheese, pork, yoghurt, ice cream – or simply eat with a spoon.
- Jars: Jars need to be hot when the sauce is added to them, this is quite important so they don’t crack.
- Lids: rings should only be finger tight, not cranked on as tight as you can get them – air needs to escape when they are boiled
- Pot and strainer: I don’t have proper canning equipment, I use a large stock pot and one of those flower steamer things to keep the jars off the bottom of the pan. Getto, yes, effective, you bet. However I only use small jars, so if you have bigger jars get a proper pot
- Storage: sauce should keep for up to a year when preserved properly – yes, you could simply freeze it for later too
Rhubarb & Apple Curd: Cool a cup of the sauce and add to 3 whisked eggs. Cook, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes until thick.
Vegan Rhubarb & Apple Curd: Add 3 Tbsp arrowroot dissolved in a bit of cold water to 2 cups of the hot sauce, whisk over heat for 30 seconds. Alternately use corn flour dissolved in cold water and whisk over heat for 4 minutes. Don’t use tapioca flour.
Rhubarb & Apple Jam: A cup [or two] of sugar added in the beginning would make this into jam, mash in the pan but don’t puree before canning. Not sure how honey or rice syrup would work but if you try it let me know!
Add-ins: Blueberries would be wonderful, strawberries would be extra special. Go crazy.