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From Plot to Preserve…

Rhubarb…

When the first stems of rhubarb appear I am itching to get to them to make my selection of rhubarb jams. I have to be very strict as to how many stems I harvest from each plant so as not to over-harvest from any one plant and hamper its production for the rest of the season.

The ‘Timperley Early’ shoots appearing – mid February

These jams are a welcome break after all the days of marmalade making! It also indicates the arrival of spring and the bountiful craziness that is soon to follow.

  • Rhubarb & Vanilla – a sweet jam that is wonderful in puddings and pastries
  • Rhubarb & Ginger – the ginger and rhubarb work brilliantly together
  • Rhubarb & Raspberry – a delicious combination where both fruits are tasted, each enhancing the flavour of the other
Preparing Rhubarb & Raspberry Conserve – the rhubarb and raspberries macerate in sugar and lemon juice over night

My savoury use for our rhubarb is a very delicious Rhubarb & Date Chutney, loosely based on a recipe from BBC Good Food and this was our top selling product of 2011. Also in the rhubarb repertoire is a really refreshing Strawberry & Rhubarb Cordial.

NEW for this year I have made a strawberry and rhubarb jam. The cordial is so scrummy, and the smell when I’m making it is delicious, so it would have been remiss of me if I didn’t give it a go to see if the combination works as a conserve.

Oh my! It certainly does! I have called it Tea-Time Jam as it reminds me of old fashioned ‘afternoon tea’, where it would go perfectly with scones and cream. It also brings back memories of ‘high tea’ where you have to smear lashings of fragrant jam onto white bread (with butter, of course!) to give you a boost of energy to get your homework done as well as stave off those hunger pangs until supper!

I am also thinking of a Rhubarb and Orange jam once I have converted old English quarts to kilos as it is quite an old recipe.

We have a variety of crowns meaning we have a plentiful supply of rhubarb to see production through the next season. The first stems are up on our early rhubarb – I’m not sure what it is, probably ‘Timperley Early’ (Rheum x hybridum). Not quite enough to start picking, but give it another couple of weeks and they will be!

The same rhubarb by mid-March – almost ready…

I have to wait a couple of years before my new crown of ‘Champagne’ is robust enough to be harvested from. I may be able to sneak the odd stem off though just to check it really is as sweet as the catalogues say!

Rhubarb ‘Champagne’ planted early February, already sprouting by mid-March

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