Tuesday, May 16, 2006

raining pouring and rhubarb

It's beginning to look like we might need an ark. The rain has been coming down for DAYS. And it's been a pretty thoroughly soppy wet rain too. No gardening for me. I can see masses of green everytime I look out the back window however I avoid looking too closely since I know it is probably all weeds.

I did notice today that the rhubarb was flowering (silly thing doesn't it know it's not supposed to do that?). So I ran out in between raindrops and cut off all of the flowers. While I was out there I got a good look at my rhubarb crop. Whoooo-ee! Lots o' rhubarb. I think next week I'm going to have to start canning because I am a wuss and don't want to gather it in the rain because there is way to much for my family to eat in baked goods and next week it won't be raining this week is not convenient. Of course our jam supplies are getting low so that's not a bad thing.

One thing I think I'll be able to make this year is rhubarb chutney. Last year I made mostly jams and baked goods but I have such a bumper crop this year I don't have to limit myself. I love rhubarb chutney (although I need to make it in smaller containers), it's delicious as a side to cheese and crackers, crudite dip, served along side roast meats and also as a glaze. The kids don't like it plain but don't seem to complain when it's a glaze. Perhaps one small batch.

Rhubarb Chutney

1 C. brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 T. minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 t. grated orange peel
4-1/2 C. coarsely chopped rhubarb
3/4 C. raisins
1 t. mustard seed
4 green onions, chopped

Cook sugar, vinegar, ginger, and peel at medium until sugar dissolves and mixture boils.
Add rhubarb, raisins, mustard, and green onions, bring back to a boil.
Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.
Place into sterilized canning jars, hot water bath 20 minutes.

According to instructions from the University of Illinois Extension Service:

Rhubarb can be boiling water bath canned for later use in pies, sauces and other dishes. Rhubarb should be HOT PACKED in order to drive out air in the tissues and to reduce the browning reaction that occurs as substances in light colored fruits and vegetables react with oxygen. Hot packing also increases the amount of fruit relative to juice which can be packed into one pint or quart jar.

About 1½ to 2 pounds is required for a quart of canned rhubarb (or about 10½ pounds for a canner load of 7 quarts). Trim leaves and stems and cut into ½ to 1-inch pieces. Place fruit in a large pan adding ½ cup sugar per quart of fruit. Allow to stand until juice appears. Gently heat to boiling. Fill jars immediately leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe sealing edges to remove sugar or sauce. Prepare lids according to the manufacturer's directions. Adjust lids and process pints or quarts for 15 minutes (altitude of 0-1000 ft) or 20 minutes (altitude 1001-6000 ft). Water level in the canner should be at least 1-inch over the tops of the jars. Start counting processing time AFTER water in the canner returns to a full


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