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The Barb is On

The barb is on!

Rhubarb: how we love thee.  You are full of the zing of spring, yet you are humble and hearty.

And how underestimated you have been in years past!

From early childhood, my mother always made rhubarb sauce (recipe herein), pie, crisps, cobblers and froze whatever was left over for winter delights.

Farmer’s Markets right now have an abundance of Rhubarb, and likely your neighbor does too.  Our last article, Find Your Market has links to markets across the country and rhubarb is one of the most common items sold at this time.

Harvesting rhubarb is easy for kids ~ and produces tasty treats they love

I’ve often heard folks describe rhubarb as a weed or make comments like, ‘what would I do with it?’ To which I respond, ‘I’d be happy to take that off your hands so it’s not in your way.’ I’ll never say no to free barb.

Rhubarb sauce over yogurt was a staple growing up as it is in our home now. We regularly harvest, beginning now, and make sauces for breakfast dishes, lunches and snacks. If the seed stalk is kept cut back, and you trim your barb as it ripens, you can keep a plant producing all summer long.

Bring on the barb!

Kid Friendly Harvest & Recipe

This week, my son Phoenix worked the entire process, garden to table.

He harvested the rhubarb, washed it, cut it and cooked the sauce, all himself.  (Well, I did the taste testing for sugar ratio, otherwise it would have come out heavy on the sweets:).

This is a wonderful recipe to use as a tool to get your kids into gardening and cooking.  The resulting food is something kids love ~ a sweet and tangy sauce that goes well over yogurt, ice cream or, my favorite, breakfast waffles and pancakes.

Rhubarb Sauce

Fresh Rhubarb

Sugar

Water

~ Chop washed rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and fill a quart sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom with at least 2 inches.

~ Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once the fruit starts to break down, reduce heat to medium-low.

~ Add sugar and continue stirring; once the sauce is simmering again, turn to low.  You may add your sugar to taste, but for a quart pot full of fruit, I generally use about 5 cups sugar.

~ Eat fresh on yogurt, waffles, over ice cream, or jar in Masons and freeze.

Guest Food Blogger Recipe:

Check out a delicious way to use fresh rhubarb in a fruit crisp ~ fellow foodie, Mary Miller shared this great recipe for Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.  We recommend giving it a try:)

Mary shares good food on her blog, A Passionate Plate.  

NOTES on Rhubarb

Breakfast Treat: waffles, yogurt and sweet rhubarb sauce.

~For planting, try finding an existing plant to cut from.  The root of the barb is like one solid mass.  You can cut right through it to divide the plant.  Don’t worry about damage–this root is hard to kill.  It will grow almost anywhere.

~Water Rhubarb liberally.  I made the mistake years ago of thinking the wild plant on the side of the house didn’t need tending.  Not so–the barb takes a lot of water in spring and through the summer if you want to harvest repeatedly.

~ Save it for later!  If you don’t want to make sauce out of all your barb, wash it, cut it in one inch chunks and bag in the freezer.  It is just as good taken out months later for pies, sauce, chutney or crisps.

~ In the Methow Valley, purchasing rhubarb plants is possible at the Local 98856.  They also have great advice on the plant and others.

Love from Our Kitchen to Yours!  Georgina @ Caramelize Life

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120 Comments Post a comment
  1. yum! now i am craving homemade vanilla ice cream with rhubarb sauce on top!

    May 10, 2012
  2. Yum! Now I am craving homemade vanilla ice cream with rhubarb sauce on top :)

    May 10, 2012
  3. Julia T #

    Rhubarb sauce = the best snack food/breakfast/lunch/dessert in the world. I’m completely convinced of it!

    May 10, 2012
  4. Lindsay E. #

    You know I love that tasty rhubarb sauce! You’ve made me a barb sauce lover ever since you gifted me some after my girl was born. Delicious!

    May 11, 2012
    • I had forgotten that Linds! Thanks for reminding me–what a sweet day that was:)))

      May 15, 2012
  5. OK, my boyfriend has been BEGGING for rhubarb pie recently (it’s his favorite…how random is that?). Now you’ve got me contemplating growing it myself!
    :)

    May 11, 2012
    • Plenty of sun and water ~ that’s all you need!

      May 14, 2012
  6. I love rhubarb sauce. I put it in our porridge every day. I also add a few drops of vanilla essence to the sauce. Lovely blog and great photos of the kids. One sees they thoroughly enjoy harvesting.

    May 11, 2012
    • Every day, wow! We tend more towards the mix with yogurt (every day if possible:) Thank you for reading and appreciating!

      May 15, 2012
  7. One of my favorite things! I love it as you suggest, with yogurt on a waffle. When I was a kid, I wanted strawberry-rhubarb pie for my birthday instead of cake. Still do, actually!

    May 11, 2012
    • Ah yes, that is one of the most common requests for birthdays in our family. I ALWAYS want barb pie over any other desert. As does my Dad. My husband. My son. My sister. Wow, you might say there is a family rhubarb obsession:)

      May 15, 2012
  8. A neat little tip my grandma taught me? Throw in a tiny bit of strawberry Jell-o to keep the rhubarb sauce a nice red-ish color. She jokes she gets so many compliments on how great her sauce looks. :)

    May 11, 2012
  9. Constance V. Walden #

    Thanks for sharing. I love rhubarb. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    May 11, 2012
  10. The little girl with the red hair and freckles is ADORABLE!!

    May 11, 2012
    • Thank you, she’s my little garden helper:) That chicken face is adorable!

      May 14, 2012
  11. How sweet – I love the photos! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!!

    May 11, 2012
  12. My mother always made rhubarb sauce, I used to love it as a kid, still do. Yummy!

    May 11, 2012
  13. Reblogged this on locavor.

    May 11, 2012
  14. Also a rhubarb lover! Be careful to avoid making it too sweet – tart is best.

    May 11, 2012
  15. Thank you. I have fond memories of my grandmother’s rhubarb patch!

    May 11, 2012
  16. I grew up on rhubarb as a child but rarely ever find it in my parts. When I do I savor the tart pies. I wish we could get it here locally more often

    May 11, 2012
    • The best is to find a rogue plant that no one has noticed (field, abandoned lot, etc.) and dig up the root to transplant. You’d be surprised how common and unnoticed they are:)

      May 15, 2012
  17. Thanks for the recipe. I saw a bunch of rhubarb at our local farmer’s market last weekend. Now I’ll have an idea of what to do with it myself, should I buy some :)

    May 12, 2012
    • It’s easy to use fresh or preserved ~ part of the beauty! My sister says it’s an all purpose meal:)

      May 12, 2012
  18. Jonathan Caswell #

    Love rhubarb but the wife can’t eat it. I DID make a strawberry-rhubarb/custard pie when we were going together and she ALMOST didn’t get any (scratch crust, too!)

    May 12, 2012
    • Ah, that’s too bad:) Usually it’s the other way around, ladies tend to love the tartness. Make yourself a pie anyway:)

      May 14, 2012
  19. lijiujiu #

    I love rhubarb too. And how cute the kids are.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    May 12, 2012
    • Thank you so much:) I’m thrilled that such a simple recipe I’ve enjoyed my whole life is such a hit! Thanks again.

      May 12, 2012
  20. My mom makes the most heavenly rhubarb crisp. The recipe is super easy but I never get it quite right. I’ve never tried rhubarb sauce, but you’ve certainly inspired me to, assuming I can get my hands on some of that delish barb!

    May 12, 2012
    • Thanks for your message. Funny you say that because my crisp never quite lives up to my mothers either! That’s why cooking together whenever we can teaches us all so much:) How do you crisp it up?:)

      May 12, 2012
  21. Hey methowmama! Loved the blog! Thank you for your great pics, I love gardening too and your children seem so happy doing their gardening chores, certainly a delightful crew! :)

    May 12, 2012
    • Thank you! It’s such a joy when the children get into it! I’ve been dreaming since I was very small of mothering them this way–teaching cooking and gardening–and it’s gratifying that my daughter AND son are into it. I can’t wait to check out your blog:)

      May 12, 2012
  22. Loved your post on rhubarb! I am a huge fan. I’m making rhubarb bellinis this Sunday for Mother’s Day…can’t wait :)

    May 12, 2012
    • Ooo, sounds good:) I’d love to see a recipe for that!!!

      May 12, 2012
  23. My name is Barb and I like Barb. Does that make me a cannibal?

    May 12, 2012
    • HA! I don’t think so because though the fruit has the same namesake, it is a different species than we, so it wouldn’t qualify as eating your own kind:)

      May 12, 2012
  24. We had a small patch of rhubarb growing in our backyard when I was growing up. I tried planting some a couple years ago but it didn’t take. This reminds me how much I love it though. I must try again.

    May 12, 2012
    • Yes, do try again! I’ve been surprised how much water the barb takes, otherwise it withers.

      May 15, 2012
  25. I love rhubarb too, I should go and find a plant to add to my garden – being nearly winter here it is a good time to plant now. I love rhubarb and apple crumple and I have a lovely jar or rhubarb chutney in the fridge at the moment. A very under-appreciated plant.

    May 12, 2012
    • It certainly is. However, there are some of us who are loyal followers:)

      May 15, 2012
  26. We make rhubarb juice and use it like lemonade. It’s a recipe from the Ball canning book, but it never lasts long enough to make it worth canning. Essentially, 12 cups of rhubarb boiled/simmered until soft (10 minutues or so). Add lemon and orange zest if you have it. Then, strain in cheesecloth for a few hours. Take the juice and mix with a cup (or to tase) of suger. That’s the concentrate. You can can it by boiling water bath for 10 minutes or just keep it in the fridge. To drink…mix 1/2 concentrate with 1/2 water. Our kids love it and it helps us keep on top of the rhubarb harvest.

    May 12, 2012
    • That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I wonder if my hand crank food mill would work like the cheese cloth? What do you think? I use the food mill for pressing down apricots to can nectar and for apple sauce. I’d love your opinion. Again, thanks very much for sharing the recipe, it’s always great to have more barb methods!

      May 12, 2012
      • I just use cheap muslin from the fabric store as cheesecloth – lining my kitchen strainer with it and placing over a large pan. I use the same thing when we make yogurt cheese – it works great and is inexpensive. And…it does all the work for you – just walk away and take advantage of gravity. I imagine the foodmill would be more likely to give you rhubarb sauce than rhubarb juice.

        May 13, 2012
      • Good to know. Thanks for the input Defining Mama. Gravity is good:) As is cheap cheesecloth:)

        May 13, 2012
      • I think you know my brother Monte (and his wife Mishon). Small world. Congrats on the FP status!

        May 13, 2012
  27. the waffles look great even though I am not sure I like rhubarb – my grandma always cooked with rhubarb and pokeberrys.

    May 12, 2012
    • Pokeberries…hmm, are they related to gooseberries? Curious…

      May 12, 2012
  28. Ooh, now I need rhubarb.. Congrats on your freshly pressed!

    May 12, 2012
    • Thanks so much! Yes, I believe that we all need rhubarb:) Cheers! Georgina @ Caramelize Life

      May 12, 2012
  29. Love your “ode to rhubarb”! I have 2 established plants, and 6 new ones to plant this year (gardening is just getting started in my neck of the woods). Thanks for the reminder to keep watering. We want all the rhubarb we can get.

    May 12, 2012
    • Yes we do! Thanks for your message — I love it that you call it an “ode.” So true:) I’m curious, do you have different varieties of the plant or just one?

      May 12, 2012
      • My 2 big plants are Canada Red, which I have taken a cutting from this year, and I am waiting for 5 Honey Red plants to arrive in the mail. I have never tried them so I hope they are good. They are supposed to be a finer stalk, and sweet. I have put a link to your post on a rhubarb article I reblogged.

        May 12, 2012
  30. YumYum! Yesterday I have bought raspberry rhubarb on the market. Now I am cooking jam with cinnamon and honey. It smells delicious. By the way: Wonderful pics ;-)

    May 13, 2012
    • Lovely! Tell me how your jam turns out with cinnamon flavor:)

      May 14, 2012
      • Hi, just finished a very very late breakfast with, guess, cinnamon-rhubarb jam. It has a fine spicy touch. With a bit of cheese the ideal start into a windy but sunny afternoon ;-)

        May 17, 2012
  31. Just the inspiration I needed – rhubarb and lemon friands, here I come!

    May 13, 2012
  32. Rhubarb was one of the few fruits/vegetables that grew well in Wyoming (where I grew up). The rhubarb grew so well and so large that we used to pretend the leaves were umbrellas! My mom made rhubarb jam, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb butter, rhubarb pies of many variety (combined with other fruits or alone), rhubarb juice, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb…well, just about anything Mom could think of!! My mom loved rhubarb! I will never forget the day as a kid, while drinking Koolaid with rhubarb juice in it, commenting that it tasted funny. Sure enough, the rhubarb juice had started to ferment!! My mom, as the wife of a small-town pastor, was horrified that she was unintentionally serving fermented rhubarb juice to her children!

    May 13, 2012
  33. Rhubarb was one of the few fruits/vegetables that grew well in Wyoming (where I grew up). The rhubarb grew so well and so large that we used to pretend the leaves were umbrellas! My mom made rhubarb jam, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb butter, rhubarb pies of many variety (combined with other fruits or alone), rhubarb juice, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb…well, just about anything Mom could think of!! My mom loved rhubarb! I will never forget the day as a kid, while drinking Koolaid with rhubarb juice in it, commenting that it tasted funny. Sure enough, the rhubarb juice had started to ferment!! My mom, as the wife of a small-town pastor, was horrified that she was unintentionally serving fermented rhubarb juice to her children! We still get a good chuckle out of that one, although Mom never quite appreciated the humor!

    May 13, 2012
  34. Rhubarb is great. It’s one of those forgotten cultures we stopped growing – especially people where I am from. In fact it has tons of healing properties, and is related to buckwheat, which was extremely surprising for me to find out.

    May 13, 2012
    • Was it the healing properties that made me steal it from the garden fresh as a girl? We used to chew on it like gum:)

      May 15, 2012
  35. Thanks for your post, which took me back to my childhood in England and to memories of my favourite pudding: rhubarb crumble! I have always been a rhubarb fan, but I have to buy it frozen as for some reason it doesn’t grow here…. Rhubarb, a luxury item! Pfft, who’d believe it….

    May 13, 2012
    • Wow, would you be willing to share something about rhubarb crumble? Pudding is a type of food I have not yet explored. We would love it! Thanks for reading:)

      May 15, 2012
      • I’d be happy to do so. In fact, “pudding” is a synonym for “dessert” in England. H

        May 23, 2012
      • Ah, that informs me better! Thank you. I look forward to seeing your recipe! We just harvested more rhubarb this morning and are creating a breakfast muffin recipe. I’m coating the fresh fruit with sugar before baking. We’re making a streusel for the top and may just have to share the recipe. We would love to try your pudding! Thanks again, Georgina @ Caramelize Life

        May 23, 2012
      • I’d be happy to do so. in fact, “pudding” is a synonym for “dessert” in England. However, there are rhubarb puddings, and rhubarb crumble with custard is just fabulous. I’ll let you know when I get round to posting something!

        May 23, 2012
  36. elizabethweaver #

    Good clear info. Thanks!

    May 13, 2012
  37. After answering your email questions… I will add that Rhubarb is a favorite of mine… connects me to my grandmother and lots of memories… I also LOVE rhubarb anything. Your title is really catchy too! Best, Renee

    May 13, 2012
  38. Coincidence! I just made rhubarb and ginger preserve, which I also use to spice up breakfast yoghurts and toast. The house smells wonderfully zingy right now!

    May 13, 2012
  39. I love Rhubarb and love cooking w/ my kids! It’s a win/win!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    May 13, 2012
  40. Nice post. Photos and recipes inspire me to cook something rhubarb. I’ve not had much rhubarb but what I’ve had is exceptionally good.

    May 14, 2012
  41. We grew up with rhubarb jam back in the midwest. We loved it so much we brought some out west. Our rhubarb patch is flourishing – tomorrow I’m making rhubarb sauce! Thank you.

    May 14, 2012
    • Wonderful! You’re welcome. Let us know how it turns out, or if you add anything special:)

      May 15, 2012
  42. I love everything rhubarb! There’s something absolutely wonderful about that feeling that distinctive “tang” right at the back of your jaw! Thanks for posting this recipe – it will go right onto my list of things I want to make!

    May 14, 2012
  43. Love the simplicity of this posy ;)

    May 14, 2012
  44. Alyssa #

    Oh, yummy! The kids looks great on the photos, by the way. :)

    ——————
    colorado springs divorce lawyers

    May 14, 2012
  45. wardenfree #

    i love the Rhubarb! love the liitle girl !She is so cute!

    May 14, 2012
  46. Delicious- rhubarb is so underated! Gorgeous children you have too!

    May 14, 2012
    • That’s so sweet:) And agreed, it is underrated and over priced. I’m thinking about a rhubarb muffin recipe next, mmmm.

      May 21, 2012
  47. Ali #

    I love rhubarb! My dad (and all the neighbours) used to have bushels of the stuff growing in his garden back home in New Brunswick where I’m from. You couldn’t give enough of it away, it was so plentiful.

    Here in England though, you don’t see much of it and what there is is expensive. Same with corn on the cob. Weird eh. ;

    May 14, 2012
    • Hi Ali, Yes, that’s just how it’s been in my mother’s garden all our lives. Every spring she asks if I would like more transplants:) But, it grows so easily, it is absolutely shocking to me that it would ever be expensive. Even here, it is so expensive in the store that I would never buy it. (Especially because the freezer is stocked with bags of my own:) Thanks for reading! G @ Caramelize Life

      May 15, 2012
  48. I grew up with rhubarb in NB, Canada, I wonder if it will grow here in Charlotte NC.. I shall try. I read an interesting article once on a guy who brought rhubarb to the Alaska or Yukon gold rush, Alaska’s apple I think they called it.

    May 14, 2012
    • Hi Lloyd, It’s my impression that the barb can grow just about anywhere. If it can be successful in a climate like Alaska, I would think NC would be fine. But I’m hearing from a lot of readers in the south east that they do not grow it. I’m now very curious about these questions:) Thanks for following! G @ Caramelize Life

      May 15, 2012
  49. I love Rhubarb, but once it is in season I never end up buying it as I lack ideas on what to do with it, so I will definitely be making a note of this recipe. I think it would be great on pancakes!

    May 14, 2012
  50. Beautiful pictures! Great blog :D
    http://www.karmacopia.wordpress.com

    May 14, 2012
  51. Rhubarb is a great gift to mankind — from another rhubarb pie and rhubarb afficianado. Would you consider a site dedicated JUST to RHUBARB?

    May 14, 2012
    • Thanks for your comment:) Interesting suggestion. I think it could be done! What would you want to read about? I can think of a dozen recipes off the top of my head…

      May 14, 2012
  52. Reblogged this on Makais Blog and commented:
    looks tasty (and healthy)

    May 14, 2012
    • It certainly is. And I’m learning that rhubarb has all kinds of medicinal elements as well. No wonder we use to steal it from the garden as kids!

      May 14, 2012
      • do you think it is more nutritious than kale?

        May 14, 2012
      • I’m not sure that is possible:) However, you have me thinking now about experimenting with raw rhubarb in salads…more later:)

        May 14, 2012
      • >However, you have me thinking now about experimenting with raw rhubarb in salads<

        Better, you avoid this. The raw stalks contain about 460 milligrams per 100 grams of oxalic acid. This is risky for the calcium metabolism. For people with gallstones and kidney problems and for children with caution.

        May 17, 2012
      • Hi Andrea, thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, you are correct in your understanding that rhubarb contains oxalic acid and can be aggravating to those with gallstones and kidney problems. To better understand how oxalic acid works and how it relates to vegetables like cabbage, spinach, beet tops and rhubarb please check out this helpful link[http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/poison]. I think Dan does a nice job of explaining what oxalic acid is and how it plays a roll in vegetables and our bodies. He explains the science behind it as well as shares information on tests and some history.
        Dan Eisenreich does include a guide “Precautions for Rhubarb Gardening”:

        “Trim leaves from stalk immediately.
        Don’t use stalks from frost bitten plants.
        Wash the stalks well.
        Children should be taught to eat only the rhubarb stalks, preferably under supervision”

        I hope this helps our readers understand rhubarb better, your thoughts and comments are always welcome and great for learning.

        ~Rachelle @ caramelizelife

        May 18, 2012
  53. I love rhubarb, too. My Mom made some of the best rhubard desserts when I was little!! Sadly, where I live now it’s too hot to grow it. I tried, but the plants didn’t not thrive at all. We didn’t get any rhubard out of the garden. Enjoy it for me, too. :-)

    May 14, 2012
    • Oops… I should have proofed before sending “didn’t not”. Sorry about that.

      May 14, 2012
    • Will do! We have been every day:) What is your climate, just curious? We are semi-arid desert/North Cascades.

      May 14, 2012
      • The winters can get down to the 20′s at times (and fluctuate between the 20′s and 50′s), but summers are far too hot and humid. We’re in the Southeast.

        May 15, 2012
  54. Rhubarb/strawberry pie, rhubarb jam–yum! The taste of summer…love the tartness of it. Great post!

    May 15, 2012
    • Thank you. Just planted a bunch more strawberries so that the jam may be made mid-summer. I love these early fruits!

      May 15, 2012
  55. I never tasted rhubarb, but you made me curious! Thank you for sharing,
    Artphalt (http://artphalt.wordpress.com)

    May 23, 2012
    • Thank you for reading. I really like some of your photos! If you have never tasted, the season is now for the fresh stuff. I’ll post some more recipes for everyone to enjoy. Cheers! Georgina @ Caramelize Life

      May 23, 2012
      • I’ll check your recipes and try them, now I must absolutely taste it! Thank you again for passing by, have a nice day!
        Artphalt (http://artphalt.wordpress.com)

        May 23, 2012
      • Yes, please do. We’re about to put our rhubarb muffins in the oven. Just may have to post the recipe. You have a good one too!

        May 23, 2012
  56. pua #

    I have no success with planting strawberries. The Robins just eat them up.

    June 24, 2012
    • Hi,
      Yes the birds love ours as well. I have tried several ways and depending on your size of berry patch, need for ease of picking and tenacity of bird,I can offer a few suggestions.
      1. String a shiny bird tape along your patch.
      2. You can recycle your old CD’s or DVD’s that are scratched and no longer useful inside the house and put them out in the garden to twirl and reflect the light.
      3. Use bird netting, the tiny usually black mesh type and build a simple wooden frame to set over your patch. Be aware of this one, it is great but you’ll want to watch to make sure there are no little birds sneaking in and getting caught inside.
      4. If you have a fake raven, owl or scarecrow(real one;) then you could place it in the patch, but smart birds will catch on eventually.
      5. Other options I’ve heard of but not tried are; to add a bird feeder to provide them with food (however you may attract more birds that way) or add a bird bath because some say that the birds are after the water content in the strawberry and not the berry itself. (But if they are hungry well then, you’ve provided a full buffet).
      Or simply over plant your strawberry plants, if you have loads of garden space that way you are planting some for you and for the birds.
      I wish you well in your gardening adventures and I’d love to hear if any of these suggestions were helpful to you.

      Happy Gardening!
      Rachelle @ caramelize Life

      June 24, 2012

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