Saturday, May 8, 2010
May Can Jam Rhubarb!
Rhubarb always makes me think of my maternal grandmother, Mimi. Mimi lived in the house my mother grew up in, just a bit up the hill from the farm where she had been raised. Although she did not farm, she had a large garden and did a lot of canning. She also was one of the best home cooks I have ever met. I have memories of her sending me out in the garden to pick asparagus while she whipped up hollandaise sauce back in the house's small kitchen. Small because when you have 7 kids (6 boys and my mother) on a limited budget, living space takes a priority over cooking space. One of my favorite dishes Mimi would make was her strawberry rhubarb pie, with both berries and rhubarb from her garden. This post is for her. You are missed by many.
When I mentioned to friends that this month's assignment was either rhubarb or asparagus, everyone assumed I would make strawberry rhubarb jam. We had pickled asparagus earlier this year, so that was not an option. However, we made 4 kinds of strawberry jam last year and are waiting to remake our favorite, flavored with balsamic and a smidgen of black pepper. So that off the table, I thought about the pickled rhubarb I had enjoyed at Baker and Banker, a marvelous restaurant here in San Francisco. I asked for the recipe, but it turned out not be be appropriate for the can jam as it was for a refrigerator pickle. So in our usual way, we ended up with a variant on this pickle, raw packed, in brine, as well as some rhubarb syrup that I know I will want more of and a few jars of pickled mangoes just because they were on sale when Lisa went to the store. I'll share the pickled rhubarb recipe, but be sure to let me know if you are interested in either of the others.
Pickled Rhubarb Two Ways (sliced and batons)
Like many of our canning projects, this is a combination of many we have seen in books, begged from chefs and discussed with people at the farmer's market.
2.5 pounds of rhubarb, cleaned. 1/2 sliced into "coins", 1/2 into batons the height of your jars
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 tsp whole cloves
4 small dried chile peppers
2 Tbsp salt
Combine vinegar and spices in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer. In the meantime slice rhubarb and fill cans. When done, ladle brine into jars, taking care to filter out spices.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit one month before trying.