British Columbia

Beyond crumble: CBC listeners share their most creative rhubarb recipes

CBC Radio asked listeners in Northern B.C. how they use their rhubarb, and got plenty of response.

From rhubarb-infused vodka to rhubarb toffee, there are plenty of uses for the plant

Rhubarb perennially pops up in B.C. gardens. (Carolina de Ryk/CBC)

A perennial plant is popping up in B.C. gardens: rhubarb.

CBC Radio's Daybreak North asked for recipes outside the classic pies and crumbles the plant is known for, and received plenty of family recipes and creative creations.

Rhubarb toffee

Kassandra Joss of Prince George came across this confection while visiting Iceland.

"When we returned home, I had some rhubarb still in our garden and thought I'd try my hand at recreating it," she wrote.

"I was quite shocked when it worked! Here's my version."

Kasandra Joss' homemade rhubarb toffee. (Naomi Joss)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter.
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup.
  • 1 can condensed milk.
  • 1.25 cups golden sugar.
  • 1 large stick of rhubarb, sliced fine then chopped.

Method:

  1. Melt butter, sauté rhubarb until well combined, add in rest of ingredients.
  2. Bring to boil over medium-high heat until the temperature gradually climbs to 120 C, stirring constantly (takes a good 15-20 minutes —  the mixture will stop splattering, thicken, and then start to darken just before it's ready).
  3. Pour onto lightly buttered or parchment-covered cookie sheet with silicon spatula and gently spread to less than 1cm thickness — be careful, the mixture is extremely hot!
  4. Let cool completely to harden.
  5. Using a piece of parchment to protect the toffee, tap sheet toffee sharply with a small hammer starting at an edge to break into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Enjoy!

Rhubarb vodka or juice

Rhubarb can help flavour gin or juice. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Sylvan Daugert from Massett shared this tip: "Rhubarb infuses well in vodka or gin. Basically, soak it with sugar in the alcohol for three weeks. After three weeks, drain and discard the rhubarb."

For a non-alcoholic option, Jessica Caitlin suggests a similar method for rhubarb juice.

"You stew it with some sugar and some water, then strain it... it makes a beautiful syrup that you can add to soda water to make spritzers," she said.

As a bonus, she adds, "keep the stewed pulp to put on yogurt."

Rhubarb jam

Richard Harasen shared his mother's method for making rhubarb jam, which he says was "the best in the country."

"She would have a large pot on the wood stove in our home filled with about five gallons of chopped rhubarb, to which she added sliced orange and, of course, a large amount of sugar."

Harasen explained the flavour gets better as the jam simmers.

"The best jam was the batch that would slightly burn on the bottom of the pan," he said.

When combined with strawberries or oranges, rhubarb can help make a thicker ham. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Alison Cartwright adds Saskatoon berries while Hilary Crowley prefers strawberries in the mix.

"It takes equal quantities of both fruit. The rhubarb bulks up the jam and takes on the flavour of the strawberries," shes said. "It's our favourite!"

Rhubarb cake

Dolly Harasym grows her rhubarb in Crippen Cove near Prince Rupert, but it has its roots in Saskatchewan. 

More than 100 years ago, her grandmother started a patch in the prairies and one of Harasym's uncles transported a plant to Crippen Cove to carry on the family legacy.

Dolly Harasym dropped by CBC Prince Rupert with her favourite cake recipe. (Carolina de Ryk/CBC)

Here's the rhubarb cake recipe Harasym favours:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups butter or margarine.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar.
  • 1 egg.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
  • 2 cups flour.
  • 1 tsp baking soda.
  • 1 cup sour milk (or substitute 1 tbsp of vinegar to milk to make sour milk).
  • 2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

Method:

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla.
  2. Mix flour and soda, add to butter mixture alternately with sour milk.
  3. Fold in chopped rhubarb.
  4. Pour into a 9 x 12 greased cake pan.
  5. Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tbsp. cinnamon on top of batter.
  6. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. 

To read and share more recipes, follow CBC Daybreak North on Facebook.

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