Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rhubarb Recipes (or What do I do with all of this Rhubarb?!)

Rhubarb is in season in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. It is one of the first crops that comes into season for us, so we always look forward to this time of year. Many Americans have never seen or tasted rhubarb because it is not widely available in the grocery. Essentially, it is a perennial that grows on a red and green stalk and looks similar to giant celery stalks. It has a bitter taste that is a nice complement to strawberries and other sweets. The rhubarb we use is a wonderful heirloom variety that is very old and has been growing for decades.

If you would like to try rhubarb but do not know what to do with it, our compilation of recipes is listed below (credit is given where credit is due).

Danish Rhubarb Liqueur from How To Make Danish Liqueur by Cheryl Long. (We were lucky enough to stumble across this recipe on the Throwback at Trapper Creek blog which also contains many other great rhubarb recipes).

4 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced
4 cups granulated sugar
3 cups vodka

Slice rhubard in 1/4 inch slices and combine with sugar in a large jar, glass bowl, or crock. Pour vodka over and stir well with a wooden spoon. Cap or cover and let sit 2-4 weeks. The color will turn rosy. Stir once or twice.

Strain off liqueur using a colander over a large bowl. Discard rhubarb. Strain through triple cheesecloth. Poor into bottles and cap. Let age at least 1 month. For a more mellow flavor, age 3-6 months. Makes 2 qts.

Ruby Port and Rhubarb Risotto with Sugared Strawberries (courtesy of Cooking Light magazine, May 2010, p. 196)

2 cups sliced strawberries
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
2/3 cup ruby port
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
3 1/2 cups water, divided
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked medium grain rice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 (2 oz) mascarpone cheese

Combine strawberries and 1 Tabsp sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine port and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in rhubarb. Cook 7 minutes.

Bring 3 1/2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan (Don't boil). Keep warm over low heat. Combine milk, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a separate saucepan; bring to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven. Add rice to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup hot water; cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of water is absorbed before adding the next. Add milk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of milk is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in vanilla; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in mascarpone until cheese melts. Place about 1/2 cut risotto in each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 2 Tbsp port mixture and 1/4 cup strawberry mixture. Yields 8 servings.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream (courtesy of Cooking Light magazine, May 2010, p. 116)

2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1/3 cup fruity red wine (or substitute cranberry juice cocktail)
3 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Combine milk and half and half in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat milk mixture to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge (don't boil). Combine 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until pale yellow. Gradually add half of hot milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour the egg yolk mixture into pan with remaining milk mixture; cook over medium-low heat until a thermometer registers 160 degrees, stirring constantly. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 20 minutes or until custard cooks completely, stirring occasionally.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, rhubarb, and wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and liquid is syrupy. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Combine rhubarb mixture and strawberries in a blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl, pressing with a wooden spoon; discard solids. Stir rhubarb mixture into custard mixture.

Pour custard into the freezer can of an ice cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Drain ice water from freezer bucket; repack with salt and ice. Cover with kitchen towels, and let stand 1 hour or until firm. Yields 10 3/4 cup servings.

Organic Insecticide
Rhubarb leaves can be used to make an effective organic insecticide for any of the leaf eating insects (cabbage caterpillars, aphids, peach and cherry slugs, etc).

Shred 3 lbs rhubarb leaves.

Boil in 1 gallon of water for 30 minutes.

Strain into a bucket to cool

In a small saucepan heat to boiling point 2.5 quarts of water and mix in 4 oz of softened natural soap ends.

Add to the strained leaf mixture, stir vigorously, and allow to cool.

Pour into a sprayer. I strained it again through a colander to make sure there were no pieces to clog the sprayer. Spray onto desired plants. Any unused spray should be used within a day or two.

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