Remember I mentioned I needed to make rhubarb juice few posts back? No need to go check, but well, as I didn’t get to do it when it was the time, I did it on Sunday and Monday instead.
Rhubarb is the first crop of the season in our garden. There’s usually plenty of it and half of it we simply give away to family and friends, because we can’t consume it all by ourselves and we simply haven’t had time to take up the task of juicing it. Mostly, because when we finally get the time, it has already wooden up and after that it doesn’t give much juice anyway.
If you plan to make juice out of rhubarb, there are few things to keep in mind:
- Keep close eye on the flower stem. The best time to make the juice is when the petioles have grown to it’s max and the blossom stem has just formed.
- Never try cooking petioles with cooking soda to reduce the acidy taste! I should put this in bold. That’s because the acid toxin that rhubarb has turns to something heavier through chemical reaction. I don’t know what it is, never researched it, but that’s one thing you learn first hand. Soda and rhubarb do not mix. Otherwise you are on the safe side, because you would have to consume rhubarb in about 5 kilo quantity first to get poisoned and, well, no one ever eats it in such quantities.
- Make juice some time in late spring and early summer (ideal month – May) . The older the stems get, the more it collects nitrates in its body and that’s hazardous – you can simply poison yourself.
Keeping all this in mind, I decided this year to plan it out right and make some rhubarb juice. So when I got home on Sunday it was good enough weather and instead of going to bed, I got myself a sheet we use to carry off leafs in autumn (much easier than with wheelbarrow), nice and clean wheelbarrow for the petioles, freshly sharpened knife and headed to the bush of rhubarb. I do mean bush, because they grow here up to chest and we have about 2-3 meterlong bed. Traditionally when we clean the petioles from the leaf on top, we lay it under the others, but with what I had in mind, it would have been too much.
Also, be prepared for surprises. I got two wheelbarrows full of rhubarbs. I should have taken picture of this, too. Sharp knife means few cuts in your fingers, so be prepared for that.
Preparations are always the same: cut the leaf and clean the dirt.Wash.With bottom I always see pictures that the pink part is always cut off. I don’t do that, it doesn’t hold any reason. I do remove the leafy dried part. Some tell you to peel the petioles. I don’t do that either. The color in the peel is what gives the juice its pink color. If you see that you can’t cut through the peel, then yes, it’s natural to pull it off. But otherwise it’s unnecessary.
There are three methods to do the juice:
- Cut the petioles in thin, layer with sugar in a bowl. Let it sit overnight or two and do it’s magic. Then sieve the juice and bottle. For longer period you need to heat it up, sieve the dirt and then bottle. This version is good if you want thicker syrup – you simply need to add more sugar and boil it down.
- Cut the petioles in longer pieces (2 cm), put them in a pot and add little water (for 1 kgof rhubarb about 4-6 dlof water). Bring this to boil and then drain on cheesecloth unpressured. Gather the juice in a pot and reheat it, adding according to your taste about 3 to 5 dlof sugar. Skim the dirt and bottle.
- Steaming. Cut the petioles in longer pieces, put the steamer up. Everyone’s different, so I will write what I had. Add the rhubarb to the steamer and let it do it’s work. You can add handful of sugar to get the juice out faster, but this time I didn’t need to. After they have sunk a bit, you can add some on top of the patch. Let the steamer do its work and let the juice out.
I chose the latter and spent the rest of the day making juice. I ended with30 litersof pure, unsweetened juice. That’s 60 half a liter bottles. Then we reheated it, added sugar by taste (which was way less than we expected) and bottled them.
Because we don’t have many in our family, who actually like rhubarb jam, I only did about 2 litersof that, divided in small jars. For this I simply cut the last punch of petioles into1 cmlogs (got about 5 literbowl full) and steamed it separately from everything else. The juice I added to the rest, but the left over “jam” I put in a pot, and continued heating it. I grated the skin of one big orange, peeled the white part off, and cut the orange into smaller pieces. After collecting the juice, too, I added the entire orange to the rhubarb. Added 500 gramsof sugar and let it all rise to boil. Careful! It can burst bubbles quite far, so keep any pets, children and yourself off the way. Sterilized the jars and put it in there.
So all this in just 2 days. Sounds simple? It sure tastes good and simple 🙂