Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Canning Rhubarb Sauce

I am home this morning, I have an appointment later on but thought I might start the day by working in our expanding garden.  Unfortunately rain has delayed those plans.  We have decided to expand our garden again this year, we are relying more and more on the food we grow ourselves and preserve so we are in need of more space.  Currently we have one garden in the back yard that is approximately 300 square feet and another backyard garden that is approximately 100 square feet, we are adding another 50 square feet to that garden.  This will bring our total backyard garden space to 450 square feet, not a large garden by any means, but we produce a lot of fruits and vegetables in this space.  Slowly our backyard is turning from grass to garden, trees and bushes.

We are able to produce strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, lots of raspberries, a few grapes, a few blueberries, lots of tomatoes, potatoes, squash, carrots, lettuce, spinach, beans, cucumbers, peas, peppers, eggplant, and a variety of other vegetables that I have forgotten at the moment.  I freeze, dehydrate, water-bath can and pressure can the foods we produce and we eat on these all winter.  Our pantry is looking sadly empty right now so I have been anxious to begin filling it again.  Rhubarb is ready to be picked and I have already been baking with it and there are more rhubarb recipes to come.  I have found though that for desserts fresh rhubarb is best, it becomes tough after it has been frozen, and so I do not plan to freeze as much this summer, just a few pints for breads, scones, and muffins. Rhubarb juice is fantastic, but making it requires a lot of rhubarb stalks and a lot of sugar for a quart or two of juice, so I will only make this if we end up with way more rhubarb than we can use.

Instead I have decided to can rhubarb sauce.  Rhubarb sauce is like applesauce, only with rhubarb.  More sugar needs to be used, but the taste is a wonderful sweet-tart flavor that has no match and being able to indulge in this sauce at the end of a cold, snowy day in mid-winter is a real treat.  I added cinnamon to this batch, I like to add cinnamon whenever I am able to, for the health benefits; the color is not as bright red, more of brownish red due to the cinnamon.  Please remember:  Never eat rhubarb LEAVES.  They are high in oxalic acid, which is poisonous.

Canning Rhubarb Sauce
~Sense of Kitchen, based on the instructions from Putting Food By~

To prevent pitting any of your sauce pots, it is best to use an enameled pot, such as this, when cooking rhubarb because it is an acidic vegetable.  The water-bath method of canning works for this sauce because of the level of acid in rhubarb.

Rhubarb stalks, fresh picked, leaves discarded
Sugar, 1/2 cup for each 4 cups of raw rhubarb
Cinnamon, to taste (optional)

Making the Sauce
Wash rhubarb stalks and trim ends, there is no need to peel the rhubarb if the stalks are young.  Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.  Measure.  Put rhubarb into an enameled pot, mix in 1/2 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of cut, raw rhubarb.  Let stand, covered, at room temperature for about 4 hours to draw out the juice.

While waiting for the rhubarb juice to be drawn out begin preparing your canning equipment as indicated below.

Add cinnamon to the rhubarb and sugar at this time if you wish.  Bring the pot of rhubarb slowly to a boil and boil for only 1 minute if you want the pieces left whole.  If you want the rhubarb pieces to break up and blend into more of a sauce as you see above, let the rhubarb cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Canning the Sauce
Fill the water-bath canner 2/3-full of water and place it on the stove over high heat to begin heating the water.

Wash and sterilize, in boiling water, pint jars and rings.  Fill sterilized jars with hot rhubarb sauce, using a wide-mouth funnel if you wish, leaving 1/2-inch of headroom, wipe rim with a clean cloth.  Place new lids in simmering water for 30 seconds, then place the lid on the jar and seal it with the ring.  Using a jar lifter, place the jars on the rack, in the canner and lower into the hot water.  If needed, add hot water to cover jars by 1-inch.  Bring the water to a rolling boil and begin timing.  Process either pints or quarts for 15 minutes.  Remove jars with jar lifter and place on a towel to cool.  Allow the jars to sit still for 24 hours.  Then check to see that the lid sealed, remove the ring, and wipe down the jar with a wet cloth to remove any sticky areas.  Place sealed jars in pantry and any that did not seal place them in the refrigerator to be eaten within the next week.

Serve the Sauce
The sauce is good cold, room temperature, or warmed.  Add a swirl of  cream for an extra treat.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Recipes / Canning