Rhubarb – A Market Crew Member Speaks

by Rebecka on May 7, 2013 · 4 comments

The best thing about rhubarb for me has always been that it is red.   In the usual Pacific Northwest Spring through to “Junuary” (A common term used by market folk) the weather is usually cool, Spring feels “late”, and the dedicated GTF market crew will do all that we can to keep the donuts from getting rained on. At sunrise when you open a market tub full of rhubarb, you are excited to see the rich and vibrant red amongst the sea of green you will need to display before the crowds start rushing downtown.

Unlike many of the market shoppers, I don’t have great memories of strawberry rhubarb pie.  I am not sure we ate much pie- at all- in my childhood. And to be honest, I always thought it strange for the combo; rhubarb and strawberries don’t have much overlap on the market shelves.  I have since tasted strawberry rhubarb pie and it is no fail tasty treat, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t what drives me to pull rhubarb off the shelf.

For many years, I passed rhubarb up altogether, until I met and studied with Laura McCandlish, an incredible blogger, writer, and radio personality.  She has a way for turning me on to almost anything.  Several years ago in a Master Food Preserver class she demonstrated making rhubarb syrup with the same variety of rhubarb that we grow and sell at Gathering Together Farm.  The color again was incredible, a hot magenta-pink.  She suggested using it sodas and mixed drinks.  Two years ago, she used the same the syrup to make Italian ice with fresh mint.  The flavor combo was perfect, and the frozen treat hit the spot for this 8 month preggo, at the time.

I started cleaning out my freezer early this year, because unlike the usually Oregon Spring, this May feels more like July and I want to make room for the blueberry harvest.   I found two quart bags of rhubarb and was inspired to make freeze pops to break this unusual heat. I boiled them down, added mint and honey to taste, strained, and viola: the taste of a cool sweet spring in a summery spell.  Tonight I had the joy of watching three young boys gobble them down and my 2 year old son keeps dragging a chair to the freezer begging for more.

The Rhubarb Honey Mint Syrup Recipe

8-10 ribs of red-ribbed rhubarb, chopped
½ cup honey
3 Tbsp dried mint or double with fresh mint

In large sauce pan, cook the rhubarb with some water on low heat. I used about 1 cup of water.  Add mint.  As the rhubarb starts cooking and more juice collects in the pain, raise heat to medium.  When fully cooked, mash rhubarb and mint together.  Strain juice into a bowl.   Return to pot, and honey and warm until the honey is fully blended.  Taste.  This is the concentrated rhubarb syrup.  Add more honey if you like it sweeter.   It should be a nice blend of sweet and tart.

For popsicles, you can make a more concentrated pop, or light and refreshing pop.  It’s up to you.  I added a little bit of water to the syrup. Pour into molds.  If this is your first time using freezer pop molds, make sure that you warm the popsicle by running it under warm water to get it out of the mold.  Don’t rush this, you will see the pop starting to release from the sides.  Gentle tug on the pop to remove.  Enjoy!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

juliette May 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Rebecka, that sounds awesome. I just found this blog and of course I’m now dreaming of concocting all sorts of refreshing cocktails and popsicles. I have to admit that I composted the two quarts of chopped rhubarb I found in the back of the freezer when I looked outside and saw this year’s crop going strong.

Reply

lori hoffman May 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm

you’re awesome.

Reply

Debra May 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thanks for this inspiring offering – I’ve been watching my plant growing wildly next to my garden bed anticipating the taste to come!

Reply

Laura McCandlish May 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Sorry I’m just responding! Thanks for honoring me in this post, dear friend. I didn’t realize I had such impact and didn’t even remember making that Italian ice with rhubarb and mint. I’m going to make some of those pops for Theo this weekend. This post made me homesick for Corvallis. It’s sure “Junuary” here in Maine!

If you cut up and freeze bags of rhubarb, then you have it available for pie come strawberry season. I usually make strawberry-rhubarb crisp instead of pie, b/c I find pie crust a pain to make. Also, with greenish rhubarb that isn’t vibrant red, I stew it with dried hibiscus flowers, which add such a vibrant magenta hue and similar tart taste. I got the idea for rhubarb-hibiscus compote from Portland-based master pastry chef Kim Boyce: http://kboo.fm/node/28241

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: