Friday, June 08, 2007


Choice of free cookbook (I'll send you a list to choose from, and even ship it) to the first person who e-mails me (cindy_kitchel AT with the name of the sportscaster who used this phrase when excited by a play.

Last summer my parents brought us about 12 rhubarb plants. A few didn't make it, but several did, and this year I got my first harvest. A small one, but enough to make some marmalade and a pending crisp.

My mom, however, has been overtaken by their plants. I'm packing up the boys this weekend to head to Michigan where they'll have a lovefest with my brother's two boys. If you've ever been around four boys, ages 10 to 2, running, sweating, laughing, and getting grubby, you know that it's a nice little break. My mom and I have plans to set them all loose, putting out sandwiches and juice every now and again, and otherwise get to work on that rhubarb.

Which means I'm pulling out my 1962 Home and Garden, lazy recipe for making rhubarb marmalade. My guess is that this was whipped up in between shaking martinis, gabbing with the neighbors, and checking out Jackie O's latest pillbox hat. The steps are super simple, and there's hours between them, so it's very low pressure. The finished marmalade is unbelievably good melting on a hot English muffin or some good hearty bread. Even if you've never "put up," as they say, jams, you can do this. It's a great way to learn how to can without dealing with all the mucky-muck of a complex recipe.

Rhubarb Marmalade for the Very Lazy

2 pounds, chopped into 1-inch pieces (this equals about six cups)
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 cups of sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Put on your frilly apron and take a sip of your martini. Now, in a non-reactive bowl, mix the rhubarb, lemon rind, and sugar. Stir it around really good. Go back to your martini. Have a pitcher. You're done with the marmalade for the evening.

In the morning, sterilize about six 8-ounce canning jars, lids, and rings. You'll probably only need five, but it's better to have more than you need than less. If you've never done this before, see the notes below.

Now, as you're finishing your third cup of coffee, pour the marmalade, which will now be pretty wet and oozy, into a pot. Over medium-high heat, bring the marmalade to a low boil and cook it until it thickens up a bit. This will take maybe 10 minutes. As it's cooking, you need to stir it constantly (I use a wooden spoon so it doesn't get hot), but you can easily do this absent-mindedly with one hand while using the other to hold a novel.

When the marmalade seems to have thickened up, carefully spoon it into prepared jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace (in other words, fill it to about 1/2 inch from the top of the jar). Put a lid on the jar, screw on the band, and flip the jar over. Because the marmalade was boiling hot when you added it to the jar, you don't need to worry with water baths and canners and such. Just flip the jar over. Do this with all the jars until the marmalade is gone.

In about 10 minutes, flip the jars back upright. Over the next 30 or so minutes you'll hear little *ping!* sounds as the dome lids pop down and the jars seal themselves. If any lids don't pop down and seal, just refrigerate the offending jars and use those first. The rest can go in the pantry and won't need to be refrigerated until you open them.

A couple notes:
  • My friend Kitty and I, many years ago, made a killer Rhubarb-Lime-Ginger Marmalade. Did we write down the recipe? No, we did not (she says, shaking her fist at the heavens). But you could add some fresh grated ginger and use limes instead of lemons and taste periodically during the cooking to see if you like the taste. The three tastes together were something else: comforting and fresh and tart.
  • To sterilize the jars, wash them thoroughly and them boil them in water for about five minutes or, alternatively, run them through the dishwasher. I know people who have not sterilized jars and lived to tell the tale, but I'm quite a freak about the idea of any kind of food poisoning, so I always sterilize the jars -- especially if I'm using the flip-over method for sealing the jars.
  • To sterilize the lids, either boil them in a little pan of water for a few minutes. As an alternative, microwave some water in a glass container until the water starts to boil, and then take the glass container out anddrop the lids into the water for a few minutes.
  • If you're just not that into the idea of canning, just make a half batch and put it into the fridge immediately.
  • If you'd like to learn more about canning, check out this site: I learned to can maybe ten years ago (I was making some pumpkin butter when I heard about Princess Diana's death, if that dates it). The first time was intimidating, and after that, I was hooked.



Blogger davitydave said...

mmmmm, I was multitasking reading this post and listening to my mom talk her new computer that came bundled with Windows Vista (she wanted some For Dummies books to guide her -- good mom!).

Anywho, I was telling her about your blog and specifically about rhubarb. Her mom used to make rhubarb pies every June when it was full up (as she described it). My grandpa and I loved, loved, loved the rhubarb pie, but no one else in the family was that keen on it. Warm out of the oven, with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream makes a perfect combo of tart, creamy, crunchy and sweet.

We also had a small patch growing in our backyard. We'd break off the stalks, pull off the (poison, we believed) leaves, wash them off with the hose and eat them raw with a little salt.

And that's my life with rhubarb!

Have fun in Michigan

10:15 AM  
Blogger Lil' Bit Travels said...

Cindy -
Over the past year I have enjoyed reading your blog and have picked up some useful information. Living in Tbilisi, Georgia we regularly make all of our meals from scratch and use the locally grown produce. (During the winter this became a challenge as the assortment of available vegetable was limited.) Your entry about rhubarb made me think if a recent benefit that I took too much for granted when I lived in the states.

I have not seen nor has anyone here heard of rhubarb. There is no rhubarb in Armenia, Azerbaijan or Turkey. But a couple months ago a friend went to Vienna and came back with a bundle of rhubarb. I was a little amused at this but when she gave use a jar of strawberry/rhubarb preserve I was gratefull for this minor blessing.

Back in the states I always had more rhubarb than I could use, but here, where rhubarb is not even known, it is a priceless commodity. When I think about how many stalks of rhubarb I have thrown out over the years it . . . well I know I value rhubarb much more now that I have seen how rare it is between the Black and Caspian Seas.

The other thing you mentioned is something that I truly miss: Michigan. I look forward to our return this fall.

Once again, thank you for all your recipes. We are adding them to our growning number.

Matt Reger

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't have time to think about whether I knew what baseball announcer used the word "rhubarb" before you gave the answer. I THINK I would have gotten it right. Further, check with Phil but I believe the word indicated more than excitement over a play. It referred more specifically to a controversy, brou ha ha, argument or fight on the field.

11:10 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home