It is time to preserve rhubarb, that delicious late spring necessity, that wonderful tangy addition to pie and toast and sauce. That perennial that just keeps on giving each and every year. I need to get a plant. My new ones didn’t survive the harsh winter but my Great Aunt Donna’s fabulously established ones did! And she is always so kind to let us harvest and fill our pantry.
This is a book my grandma gave me. It is an amazing compilation of how to preserve everything from wine to raccoon. It is a fun read and filled with mouth watering recipes (not the raccoon). It covers canning, freezing, dehydrating, wine making, nut storing, and root cellaring. You can get one of the newer canning books, and that is just fine, but if you see one of these gems in a used book store, grab it!
Initially when I brought the rhubarb home I made jam and then froze the rest, a whole gallon! Then I remembered I didn’t want to use up space in the freezer and we are practicing not being reliant on electricity so I pulled it back out and canned it. I filled four quart jars with the beautiful ruby and green slices, poured over a cup of sugar (it will feel like a ridiculous amount, I assure you, but you won’t need to add any when you put it in a recipe later on) and then boiling water to 1/2 inch from the top. Water bath can for 15 minutes and 1 minute for every mile above sea level, so mine boiled for 22 minutes.
I will use this to make sauce for ice cream or make it into a pie, crumble, crisp, turnover, or whatever creative recipe I find for it.
My rhubarb jam set the second time! As usual, I had to reprocess the whole batch so I wouldn’t have nine jars of syrup. I added another cup of sugar, another tablespoon of lemon juice and let that boil for a few minutes then added another package of liquid pectin and let it boil for a few more minutes before pouring it into jars and processing it. I am learning that I need to boil off moisture. Everything is different here at high altitude and it takes longer to make jam sometimes. I added ginger, cinnamon, and amaretto and vanilla liquors. It is a delicious jam!
Now is also the time to get the preserving spreadsheet made for this year before we really get going on preserving. I know I need a jar of jam every two week (so 26 jars) plus a few to sell and give as gifts. I made 6 jars of dandelion jelly amd 9 rhubarb so I need a few more batches of something. I think I will do pumpkin butter this year. I will also see what is prolific this season. Next year if the pantry has 15 jars of jam still I will know to cut back next year but without the spreadsheet I will completely forget how much I made! Reversely, if I run out of jam in February then I know to make more next season. The spreadsheet really is a very helpful tool!