At home I call this preparation stewed rhubarb, a name that has all the sex appeal of a cactus. At work I call it rhubarb compote or jam to trick other people into eating it. It’s not a compote because there aren’t any large pieces of fruit. It’s not really a jam either, because it hasn’t been set with pectin. It’s just stewed rhubarb.
Stewed rhubarb is rhubarb cooked with sugar. It’s a preparation so basic that it doesn’t need a recipe, though as a ballpark ratio you can start with 2 parts chopped fresh rhubarb and 1 part white sugar by volume.
Cook this mixture over medium-high heat. Soon liquid will pool on the bottom of the pan. With time this liquid will boil off and the rhubarb will soften into a cohesive paste.
Depending on the rhubarb you use and how aggressively you cook it, stewed rhubarb can be moist and delicate or thick and jammy; it can also run the spectrum from rosy pink to vibrant red to caramel brown.
You may be thinking, “Rhubarb cooked with sugar: big deal! Why does this warrant it’s own blog post?”
One: It’s versatile. Actually it’s the starting point for about 90% of all the ways I consume rhubarb
- Spoon over yogurt and granola for breakfast.
- Spoon over custard for dessert.
- Spoon over ice cream for dessert.
- Layer in a glass with custard and pound cake to make a trifle.
- Thicken slightly with cornstarch to make rhubarb crumble.
- Thicken thoroughly with cornstarch to make rhubarb pie.
- Eat with cake, especially angel food cake and pound cake.
- Spread on toast.
- It actually works extremely well in savoury applications, too. With a bit of onion, as a sauce for grilled pork chops or a spread on a ham sandwich. The photo at the top of this post is a sandwich with smoked ham, Dijon mayonnaise, stewed rhubarb, cucumber, and alfalfa sprouts.
- See my rhubarb flavour web for more ideas
Two: It’s stable. It is basically a preserve, so it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks without formal canning. I think it’s smarter to freeze stewed rhubarb than chopped raw rhubarb, as it loses a lot of volume when cooked and maximizes freezer space. And it is already sweetened and ready to go.
I happened to talk about all of this stuff on Global TV yesterday morning.