Sharing Rhubarb Know-How and…..a Great Jam Recipe

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Recipes | 38 comments

apple-rhubarb sauce, rhubarb -orange jam, rhubarb-yogurt pops

Apple-Rhubarb Sauce, Rhubarb-Orange Jam,      Rhubarb-Yogurt Pops

This past week I noticed rhubarb in the store and as I had also just cut my rhubarb for the second time, thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of my rhubarb know-how, along with a great jam recipe.

My first experience with rhubarb…….wasn’t. I was newly married and, rather to my surprise, found myself living on a farm and actually expected to do all the farm-wifey things, like keep a garden, preserve food, make pies and stuff like that.

Come summer and here’s this great big rhubarb patch just waiting to be turned into pie. Grabbing a basket, I went out, cut a big bunch of stalks, brought them in, washed them and cut them into one inch pieces, all the while feeling pretty proud of myself. Then my husband walked in and asked what I was doing. That was one of those times you want to say ‘DUH’, because to me it was pretty obvious – preparing rhubarb for pie. Imagine my astonishment when he thought that was hilarious and between great big laughs told me we didn’t have a rhubarb patch and what I had so lovingly prepared was actually a weed called burdock.

I’ve learned a bit since then. I’m now very good at telling the difference between rhubarb and burdock and I even know some useful rhubarb facts to pass on, such as:

  • Only the stalks are edible – the leaves are toxic;
  • Rhubarb is low in calories, contains no cholesterol, is high in fibre and calcium, rich in B-complex vitamins, contains Vitamin A ( a powerful anti-oxidant) and Vitamin K (believed to help with treatment of Alzheimer’s disease);
  • 1 pound (450g) of fresh rhubarb equals 3 cups chopped or 2 cups cooked; Two and a half pounds are required for one 9-inch pie;
  • Freezing rhubarb is easy – wash the stalks, cut them into 1-inch pieces, spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags in whatever amount your recipes call for, seal, label and date the bags, return to freezer;
  • Rhubarb is acidic, which means aluminum pans should not be used to cook rhubarb.

I know different ways to use rhubarb:

  • Add some rhubarb to the apples next time you make applesauce. Gives it extra flavour and adds a nice colour.
  • Use your Apple Crisp recipe to make Rhubarb Crisp. You may want to increase sugar somewhat;
  • Stewed Rhubarb: Simmer together 4 cups chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup water until rhubarb is soft. Strain, reserving the juice. Mix the cooled, softened fruit into yogurt, oatmeal, ice-cream, or stir into whipped cream for instant dessert; blend with equal parts yogurt and pour into popsicle molds to make yogurt pops; both the fruit and the juice can be frozen in ice-cube trays for smoothies or the juice can be added to lemonade, punch or gingerale.
  • The Dutch use stewed rhubarb (with much less sweetener than above along with a dash of cinnamon) –  as a side dish when serving pork or beef roasts.
  • You can make Rhubarb Orange Jam – recipe below.


RHUBARB ORANGE JAM: Makes about seven 8oz. jars or three pint jars with a bit leftover.

Excerpted from Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry & Lauren Divine © 2012 Reprinted with publisher permission.

oranges for postBefore starting, cover the oranges with hot water for 15 minutes to make them juicier. I like to add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water just to give the peel an extra clean.

preparing jarsPREPARE THE JARS: Wash the jars and screw-bands in hot soapy water. Rinse well and drain. Heat the jars by placing them in a large pan, cover with water, and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat but leave the jars in the hot water until ready to use. Once the pan is removed from the stove, I throw the lids and rings into the pan.  I never re-use lids. I’m always afraid I won’t get a proper seal and for the little they cost I just won’t take the chance of having a batch go bad. So I use new lids, but do re-use the rings.

ingredients rhubarb jamIngredients:

  • 2 oranges
  • 5 cups finely chopped rhubarb
  • 1 package 1.75oz. (49-57g) regular powdered fruit pectin
  • 6 cups granulated sugar.


  1. Prepare Canner, Jars and Lids (instructions above)

orange juice and peel2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from half of one orange. Cut peel into very thin slivers, about 1-inch (2.5cm) long, and set aside. Squeeze juice from both oranges into a measuring cup, adding water if necessary, to yield 1 cup (250ml).

rhubarb 0153. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine orange juice, slivered orange peel and rhubarb. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

4. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch (0.5cm) headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary by adding hot jam. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

rhubarb 0275. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, them remove jars, cool and store.


Finally, I even know some things to do with the leaves.

The leaves make a very effective insecticide – Simmer together 2 cups finely chopped rhubarb leaves and 2 cups water for half an hour. Let cool, strain, pour into spray bottle, add 1 Tbsp. liquid dish soap. Label  the bottle, keep out of reach of children and that’s it, ready to use.

Or you can make the stepping stone as shown.

rhubarb leaf stepping stone

Rhubarb Leaf Stepping Stone – a topic for next year.

Rhubarb is one of those plants that, once established, just keeps growing and after the minimal initial cost, all the rhubarb is free, which naturally appeals to the frugal in me. If you have any space at all and don’t have a rhubarb patch, consider starting one. It just requires one plant, soil supplemented with manure, and an out of the way location where it will receive the morning sun. Leave it alone the first year and after that, you’re good for life.

Talk to you again next week,



  1. Hey Lenin what a timely post as we were talking about jam with my wife this morning. Will make sure she reads this.

  2. Wow, you really know your jams huh? I love the way you weave stories within these recipes. I hope more younger people read your posts and can learn more about becoming more self-sustainable while saving some money in the long term. Going to share and do my part for you. Thanks again!

  3. I too have never tried rhubarb and I’m not sure why? I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for it next time I’m at the farmer’s market or store!

  4. I love rhubarb. My biggest challenge is finding enough for the things I want to try. It is one of the most versatile vegetables out there, largely because it acts so often like a fruit. You have now added to my collection of ideas. 🙂

  5. I love rhubarb! We always had it when I was growing up and we have it in our garden now. My favorite things to make are rhubarb pie and rhubarb sauce which is really just rhubarb, water and sugar. I haven’t tried making it with a non sugar sweetener.

  6. Hi Lenie. Can I say just your post left me with the biggest sweet craving! In the summertime I love having tea with toast and jam, and rhubarb is one of my go-to flavors. Loved the visuals you incorporated. Makes me want to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Now you have got me excited. I love rhubarb pie but am looking forward to making the jam.

  8. You are crafty! I never heard of this before. I love that it helps with Dementia because the woman I caregiver for would benefit from anything helping her. The directions are easy to read and helpful. 🙂

  9. Oh, if only I was handy in the kitchen, Lenie. When I was a kid, we had rhubarb all over the place and I couldn’t stand it! Don’t care for it at all. But, your recipes with the visuals are superb and for all of those people who enjoy cooking and baking, you have made it easy!

  10. Hi Lenie; its not always easy to laugh at ourselves, so its great that you started off by sharing this story. I didn’t know rhubarb had so much in it that is good for us. I must have missed the latest rhubarb is the next super food post. 🙂 My grandmother never made rhubarb jam but her pies were a thanksgiving staple while she was alive. I liked them because no one else did. It was a pie that would still be there a couple days later. and in a family with six kids and all the nieces and nephews very little lasted long around that house. Aftr reading this though, I’m going to have to look for some rhubarb jam the next time we are in the store. keep the great posts coming, Max

  11. Rhubarb is something I used to eat as a child, dipping fresh stalks into a glass filled with about an inch of sugar. I also enjoy rhubarb-apple crisp. My mom makes it really well. She has a rhubarb bush in her backyard, and she also makes a jam-Jell-O-rhubarb concoction that is yummy. I’m going to pass this recipe onto her, too. I think this is something she’d enjoy making, and something we’d all enjoy eating!

  12. Wow – thanks for the leaf warning Lenie! I’m not much for jam so I will look out for another rhubarb recipe from you! HaHa

  13. We used to have a neglected rhubarb patch in the field by my parents’ house. I remember eating the occasional stalk by dipping it in sugar 😉 Now my sister has a patch and makes everyone homemade jelly every year.

  14. Being a Midwestern gal originally, rhubarb still holds a special place in my heart. We always added strawberries to our rhubarb sauce and served it over ice cream. Yum!

  15. Hi Lenie,
    My wife makes rhubarb sauce that sometimes gets mixed in with strawberries. The flavour is wonderful. I was thinking if your first attempt at rhubarb had carried through, you would have been okay. Burdock, as I have just found out, is an antioxidant, detoxifier, and blood purifier.

    Kind Regards,

    • Hi Bill, good to know I wouldn’t have poisoned us, but the taste might have been a bit of a surprise. I’ve used strawberries with rhubarb before and you are right, that does taste good.

  16. Hi Lenie. Great ideas for rhubarb and an interesting story. I am going to take a 90 day unplugged vacation so see you again mid-October

  17. Oh Lenie, This brought back such fond memories of childhood and rhubarb on the farm. My grandfather managed 800 acres by himself, (he raised beef cattle)an acre garden and did all his own cooking. Rhubarb was served often in the summer and I loved it cooked almost anyway at all! He served it mostly stewed, but I never thought to mix that juice with yogurt of ice-cream…thanks for that tip. When I cook it now, it mostly is a crisp…I adore it. Thanks for the new recipes!!!

    • Jacquie – I’m so glad it brought back memories for you. I can’t imagine looking after 800 acres by yourself. Here 100 acres used to be a good sized farm although that has changed over the last 20 years or so and we are now seeing many more large corporate farms. Enjoy the recipes.

  18. I loved the burdock story!! And I love rhubarb too. I do’t know why it’s so expensive to buy these days even when it’s in season. these are fantastic hints and recipes. Must try a patch next year.

    • Considering rhubarb has to be the most care-free, no-work required, producing year after year, I can’t imagine why it would be expensive. I process my rhubarb right away or I find it goes limp so can;’t imagine that the store bought stuff compares. Put in your patch and enjoy.

  19. I love Rhubarb and make normally pies. I will have to add your recipe to the list. What type of climate does Rhubarb grow in and does it need a lot of sunlight?

    • Hi Arleen – I think rhubarb would do well in any moderate climate – I don’t think it would do so well in extreme heat but that is something I will check out. It needs the morning sun so about 6 hours or so.

  20. Hi Aunt Lena … I remember Mom telling me the story of you cooking burdock and wanted to thank you for giving me a good laugh… again!!! Love you!

  21. Love rhubarb and have used it in different recipes since I was a teenager. Mainly for pies and creams. Thanks for the new recipes that seem delicious.

    • Catarina, rhubarb was known as the pie-plant for years, because that’s what is was mainly used for. I’m glad that today we aren’t just accepting the same old and are finding new ways to use it. It’s not only tasty, it is really so good for you.

  22. One of my favorite things as a kid. Mum would make hers and to cut the tartness she would add sultanas. We would have it as desert over ice cream and it was delicious. Thanks for bringing this back for me; its another great memory to savor.

    • Tim, I never thought about adding sultanas – Donna wrote about using it to make a coffee cake – when I do that, I may just add sultanas to the cake batter which means needing less sugar, so good all around. Thanks for the idea.

  23. Wow, who knew rhubarb had so much potential! I loved your story about the weed. My daughter just tried rhubarb the other day and loved it, so I was thinking about getting some at the grocery store and figuring out how to use it. This post was very timely for me!

    • Hi Meredith – isn’t it interesting how things work – We had cold apple-rhubarb sauce with pork chops last night for supper and it was so good. I’m glad you’re going to be able to use some of the recipes.

  24. We usually make a rhubarb coffee cake with our rhubarb. (It’s a good recipe). Maybe next year I’ll try your jam recipe. It sounds good,

    • Hi Donna, I have some rhubarb frozen for over the winter and I think I may use some of that to make a coffee cake. I love the ones with the crumble on top. Thanks for the idea.

  25. Hi Lenie! I really love the specificity in your directions. They are really good for someone like me who has never made jam before. I must say, I’m not sure I’ve ever had rhubarb though your recipes seem yummy. I wish I had a place to plant a small garden as planting rhubarb seems very economical. Since it is apartment living for me, I will have to wait to see if I end up with a yard someday!

    • Hi Erica – I hope you get your yard and have fun with growing stuff there. It really can be interesting trying new things. If its not fun, I tend not to do it. Glad you liked the directions.

  26. Lenie, so funny that you almost made a weed pie. I’d imagine it’s difficult to tell many vegetables, fruits and plants apart (definitely for a city girl like me). But it seems like you are an old pro now…and that recipe looks delicious…!


    • Michele, plant identification is really important, another thing I learned. I read once about a naturalist who took a leaf of something, added it to his sandwich and promptly died. So yes, it really can be difficult to tell the good from the bad.

  27. I’ve never cooked with rhubarb. Seems like it would be fun to experiment. And good to know that the leaves are toxic! Sometimes leaves are the best part.

    • Hi Leora – You definitely wouldn’t want to be eating rhubarb leaves, but the stalks are delicious. I love trying different things – cooking the same old stuff all the time is definitely not something I enjoy.

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