Rhubarb in August

by | Wednesday, August 7, 2013 | 0 comment(s)

Rhubarb in August:

I love rhubarb; it’s such an old fashioned vegetable. It’s a true sign that spring has sprung.  August, however, is not exactly rhubarb season.  Actually, I missed rhubarb completely this spring.  My best intentions failed to bring a few of its tart stocks home to cook or just eat raw, dipped in sugar (I know an adult shouldn’t admit to eating rhubarb this way...)

I’ve been renting a day-table for ReginaSpices from the Public Market House on Wednesdays to sample and sell spices during Portland’s large and active Farmer’s Market.  As I glanced over at the farmer’s stand across the aisle I Blue's Man Playing at ReginaSpicessaw--rhubarb!  I was a little incredulous: "Rhubarb in August?"  I guess mature rhubarb is better than a whole season without rhubarb, and I’m sure it had to be a second or third-flush cutting.  I sent Stephen (the husband and roommate...not the blue's harpist in the photo) over to pick some up, I had the idea that I’d cut it up and let people dip it in the Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar.  When he brought it back it was clear to me that it needed more peeling and cleaning than I could manage at my little table--so, I thought: I’ll stew it in Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar when I get home.

Am I glad I did!

Since rhubarb is old fashioned I turned to our ever growing collection of old cookbooks (pre-1930’s) and decided to go with Mrs. Beeton’s basic Syrup for Compote (recipe #1512; from The Book of Household Management, 1861).  She instructs 1 ½ pints of water to every pound of sugar; boil it together for 15 minutes.  She warns that if you cook fruit in this syrup, be sure to eat it "immediately," as it will not keep. For the amount of rhubarb I had (3 large stocks) I used 1 pint of water and ½ pound of sugar (½ plain turbinado and ½ Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar). I’d cut the sugar down next time I make it--that is, I’d cut the plain sugar and use the same amount of flavored sugar. 

If you are not using Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar use plain sugar and add ½ vanilla bean and 2 star anise to the basic syrup and leave the vanilla bean in throughout the cooking process, you might want to pull the star anise out mid-way (do taste periodically, star anise can be powerful).

Rhubarb Compote with Star Anise- Vanilla Sugar: This is a very loose recipe-feel free...

  • 3 Stocks of rhubarb
  • 1 pint of wateRhubarb Stewing wit h Star Aniser
  •  ¼-½ cup turbinado sugar (or any regular, non-flavored sugar) 
  • ½ cup (1 jar) ReginaSpices Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar (including the whole star anise)
  • 2 TBL Butter

Clean and peel the rhubarb.  Cut into 1-2" pieces.

Boil water and sugar together for 15 mins.  Add rhubarb.  Simmer 30 min-60 min (this will depend on the maturity of the rhubarb you are using).  After the rhubarb is cooked add the butter. 

Serve over vanilla ice cream, or with unsweetened fresh, heavy cream.                

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