Rhubarb is a staple food in our corner of the prairie. It has grown for generations, surviving blistering summer heat and wind whipping winters. My memories of rhubarb are spreading my Grandma Nola’s rhubarb jam on bread, rhubarb pies from my grandma, mom and now mother-in-law, my mother-in-law’s fabulous rhubarb meringue dessert, and my mom’s rhubarb slush. I am a novice with rhubarb compared to the prairie women around me but I am learning and experimenting each summer season.
I cut my first rhubarb on warm June night this week. I brought it inside the kitchen and asked our son what is his favorite thing made with rhubarb. Without looking up from the NBA Finals, he said, “Definitely Rhubarb Sauce!” So I started chopping and decided to make a batch of rhubarb sauce.
Below is my recipe that you can vary depending on fruit you have on hand and the flavors you prefer. We serve rhubarb sauce on a variety of things or even just eat it by itself. This is a slice of summer on the prairie.
Add a little cream or milk to rhubarb sauce for breakfast or a yummy snack. Use it as a topping for waffles, pancakes or oatmeal.
If you don’t have rhubarb planted in your yard, it doesn’t take a green thumb to grow. You can buy it from a nursery or ask a neighbor divide theirs and share. I first planted one plant of Valentine when we moved to our prairie home five years ago. I didn’t have a tree planted but I had a rhubarb plant. Five years later, we are reaping the rewards from rhubarb. (Learn about rhubarb production from NDSU Extension Service.) Keep in watered and you can pull it all summer long and into the fall until frost. Thank you to my 107 year-old Great-Great Aunt Iris for giving me the Ritzy Rhubarb Secrets Cookbook from the ladies of Litchville, North Dakota. The data, detail and array of recipes has given me a foundation in the cultural North Dakota prairie staple of rhubarb. And thank you to my mom, Jane, Grandma Nola and mother-in-law, Carol for making so many tremendous rhubarb treats each summer for our family. You instilled a love in me. A love for rhubarb!
Now, find some rhubarb, get chopping and enjoy this Rhubarb Sauce Recipe.
- 8 c rhubarb, cut-up
- 2 c strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 c raspberries
- 2 c sugar
- (2) 3 oz. boxes of red gelatin (strawberry or raspberry flavored)
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 1 c water
- 2 TBSP grated orange rind
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 2 TSBP corn starch
- Mix everything, except rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Add rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries, stir to combine. Bring to boil, stirring, turn down heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender. I recommend 25-30 minutes. Stirring every 5-10 minutes. Sweeten more to your taste if you prefer.
- Serve warm or chilled over ice cream. Serve plain or with milk and cream added. Use rhubarb sauce as a topping for oatmeal, pancakes or waffles.
- Instead of fresh berries, add frozen strawberries, blueberries or raspberries or canned pineapple
- If adding sweetened fruit, reduce white sugar