Stewed Rhubarb

A ham sandwich with stewed rhubarbAt 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

Some ideas:

  • 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.