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Bad rhubarb experiences. Any recipes to convert me?

Recipes talk about rhubarb being tangy, tart, zingy, whatever. The times I've made it, it just tastes plain sour. And it turns to brown mush. I've tried it poached, as compote and in cake. If I add loads of sugar, it's a bit less sour, but it's still tasteless. If I add spices like cinnamon or ginger, that perks it up a bit, but really it just tastes of the spices.

Who has any super rhubarb recipes that will convert me?

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  1. I wish I had an actual recipe, I will ask my grandmother for hers. However my fav way to eat rhubarb is rhubarb and strawberry pie! Also rhubarb jam, great on buttered toast! I just recently had a rhubarb crumble the other day at a farmers cafe, it was great! So just a couple of suggestions of what to look for when your searching for recipes. when I get my grandmother's recipe I can give you a better idea how to make the jam (its homemade and really easy!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: BelovedofIsis

      I have no recipe either but definitely get some "rhubarb and strawberry pie! "
      It is the best - but I never heard it referred to as anything other than strawberry-rhubarb pie.

    2. Rhubarb cooks very quickly and really doesn't retain its shape. If you don't like it, you don't like it. There's nothing wrong with not liking something everyone else thinks is wonderful. But, since you say you want to be converted, try looking up Persian recipes for savory dishes containing rhubarb. I used to have one for a stew that was quite good, but can't find it anywhere. While I love sweet rhubarb dishes (try using it to replace the berries in a coffee cake recipe), I think it's best when you put that sourness to advantage and use it to tenderize lamb or beef.

      1. Thanks. I should say, I don't need actual recipes, ideas for searches is fine.
        Isolda, I don't like not liking stuff. I tend to think I must be doing something wrong.

        2 Replies
        1. re: loukoumades

          The past couple of years, I've been slicing it and making fruit smoothies with it - this morning, it was a half cup each rhubarb, frozen strawberries (picked last year - not the store-bought sweetened kind), and plain yogurt, along with enough orange juice to make it liquidy. The ratio of sweet strawberries to tart rhubarb can be adjusted, of course, and I considered adding a bit of honey, but my berries are really sweet.

          1. re: loukoumades

            I know you don't want recipes, but I can't resist including this family favorite:
            Rhubarb Raspberry Cobbler (it isn't mushy)
            2 pounds of rhubarb cut in 1/2-inch pieces
            2 cups of fresh raspberries
            1-3/4 cup sugar
            2 Tablespoons flour
            1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
            1 Tablespoon lemon zest
            Toss all ingredients together and spread evenly in 9x13" or 3 quart baking dish
            Top with biscuit crust:
            1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
            1/4 cup whole wheat flour
            3 Tablespoons sugar + more to sprinkle on top
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            1/2 teaspoon baking soda
            1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
            6 Tablespoons of chilled butter
            3/4 cup to 1 cup buttermilk

            Sift together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger.
            Add chilled butter in pieces and cut in with pastry knife/blender to a coarse meal.
            Stirring with fork - add enough buttermilk to form soft dough.
            Turn on to floured board and roll to 3/8" thick 11x14". Lightly brush with the additional buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar - cut dough into 3/4" strips and lay on the diagonal in one direction 3/4" apart and trim the ends. Lay the remaining strips across the top in the other direction.
            Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.
            Reduce temperature to 375°F and bake an additional 25 to 35 minutes longer.
            Serve warm.
            to reheat refrigerated leftovers: heat for 20 minutes at 350°F

          2. First, rhubard needs sugar!!!!!!!
            Second, combine rhubarb with strawberries to make heavenly compotes etc.
            Third, rhubard is only red on the very outside. I actually use red food coloring to perk the color up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: monavano

              Some rhubarb is green or pink on the outside even when mature, depending on variety. But the red, if any, disappears in cooking. OP, it sounds like you aren't adding enough sugar. Rhubarb requires 1/2-1 cup sugar per 6 cups (1 lb.). I like to sweeten it with a combination of sugar and Splenda, to control the calories.

              www.rhubarbinfo.com contains a large trove of recipes and other rhubarb particulars.

              1. re: greygarious

                Yes, the red is very superficial, and green is not a sign of immaturity.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I made it in a cake with lots of sugar. And it wasn't too sour. But is it supposed to actually have a taste? Because mine just tastes of mush.

              2. I've always enjoyed this recipe, and I've made it for others who love it. I cut the rhubarb quite small so that it is sure to cook thoroughly: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/rhuba...

                1. I make a strawberry rhubarb lemonade with it...delicious.

                  1. I follow and very much like the old Betty Crocker recipe for straight rhubarb pie. (Never understood why so many people want strawberries involved.) Simply

                    Set oven to 375.

                    Mix together in a bowl:
                    1.25 cups sugar
                    1/3 cup flour
                    4 cups chopped rhubard
                    dash of salt

                    Let sit in bowl for at least 15 minutes.

                    Meanwhile, prepare double pie crust; fill bottom crust with mixture, dot with 2 TBS butter, apply top crust, cover just the perimeter of crust with foil, and bake on a sheet pan for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

                    People rave about this pie routinely. Of course, the crust is part of the appeal, too.

                    All that said, I usually make just a few pies a year from my own rhubarb plant. Once when I tried to make a pie from supermarket rhubarb, I was utterly disappointed. The problem was not tartness nor sweetness but sheer blandness. Those supermarket folks clearly knew how to get thick red stalks--almost cartoonishly attractive--but my smaller, greener stalks from my plant made a dramatically better pie.

                    So maybe supermarket rhubarb is another victim of our engineered and shippable produce culture--perfect-looking, bland things?

                    p.s., When I can't grow enough, I have success buying at the farmer's market.

                    1. it needs a lot of sugar, very little water, slice rhubarb about 2 inches long, about an inch of water in a large pan add a goodly amount of sugar, bring to the boil, cover pan and simmer for about4-5 minutes until just soft, remove from heat and let cool. It's just wonderful with heavy cream, in a fool, as a crumble or upside down cake.

                      1. I haven't tried it yet but I did cut out a recipe for a rhubarb martini the other day. As I recall, you mix the rhubarb w/sugar & water & then puree it and use the juices to add to your vodka. I think they used lemon vodka.
                        When is it in season anyway? For some reason, we don't see much of it out here in Southern California.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sparkareno

                          About the season--I speak from years of experience in North Dakota and some almost-as-cold locales: rhubarb is perhaps the one truly delicious thing that actually thrives better in places where there is a good hard freeze in the winter. It's a perennial plant and generally produces enough harvest for a pie or two around late April or early May, and then you might get another round or two later in the year, especially in Fall.

                          Southern CA is just about the opposite of rhubarb country!

                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            Indeed. Our rhubarb around here oughta be fantastic after the winter we had.

                        2. The Hesston Steam Museum in Hesston, Indiana used to serve rhubarb upside down cake at their little snack bar during the season. It was heavenly! Make it just like the pineapple kind. Sweet cake and tangy fruit. Oh my.

                          As wonderful as that cake was, my absolute favorite favorite way to eat rhubarb is to cook it down with sugar till it's lumpy and syrupy, and serve it warm over cold homemade large pearl tapioca pudding. My mouth is watering just thinking of it,and here in Georgia, I'm probably not within a couple hundred miles of a rhubarb plant!

                          1. Im not a huge fan either, but strawberry rhubarb cobbler is delicious.

                            1. I have to inject a different note into this conversation: rhubarb when FRESH will taste very zingy and tangy and all that. When not fresh it will taste simply sour. This is also true when it is harvested too late in the season.

                              To truly see if you like rhubarb or not you have to be sure it's been recently harvested. I have my own plants and eating it fresh off the plant is an entirely different thing than eating it bought from a store where you have no idea how long it's been sitting there.

                              From how you describe it -- "tasteless" -- I'm guessing the stuff you got was not fresh. If you get some fresh, young rhubarb and still don't like it, well, then, you don't like rhubarb!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: visciole

                                I have to agree - FRESH is the only way to eat/cook with rhubarb. My mother had a plant in the backyard and that is my total understanding of working with this wonderful plant.

                                Although, frozen might be tolerable. If you trust the packaging company.

                              2. i'm not a fan of loading something up with sugar just to make it palatable, and rhubarb is actually wonderful in savory dishes, so why not try it that way?
                                - chutney
                                - curries
                                - Indian spices
                                - Middle Eastern meat dishes and stews
                                - Southeast Asian dishes with pork or seafood
                                - shaved or thinly sliced in a salad with citrus and mint or basil

                                1. Thanks for the suggestions. it was from a local farmers market. Their stuff is usually good, but I have no idea how to tell if rhubarb is fresh or not.
                                  I like goodhealthgourmet's suggestions. I don't mind loading with sugar if it's say for a lemon desert which is still going to taste very lemony at the end. But I didn't like the loading with sugar just to get something that tastes of sugar and nothing else.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: loukoumades

                                    here's my chutney recipe to start you off - it's easy to make, and wonderful with chicken, turkey or pork:

                                    GHG’s Spiced Rhubarb Chutney

                                    1 Tbsp neutral oil (i prefer grapeseed)
                                    4 ½ cups (about 1 ¼ lbs) sliced rhubarb (if frozen, thaw & drain first)
                                    1 medium red or sweet white onion (about 4 oz), finely chopped – yield should be about ¾ cup
                                    ¾ cup dried cranberries or currants
                                    ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
                                    ½ cup cider vinegar
                                    1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
                                    ½ teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
                                    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
                                    ¼ tsp ground cardamom
                                    ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (black, pink or white)
                                    ¼ tsp fine kosher or sea salt

                                    In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook chopped onion in oil, stirring frequently, until softened (about 3-4 minutes). Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining ingredients. Allow mixture to come to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and prevent scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for an additional 5 minutes until rhubarb is tender but not mushy.

                                    Remove pan from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer chutney to a sealed container (preferably a glass jar) and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      GHG: another winner, thanks! I made this last night when I got home and just had some for breakfast on fresh riccotta. Be still my heart!

                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                        it always makes my heart smile when i hear feedback like that :) thanks for letting me know, and enjoy it!!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I was planning to make this myself today, along with fresh ricotta - but my ricotta failed miserably so I'm putting it off till tomorrow. It sounds DELICIOUS, though - I can't wait!

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Just finished making this chutney with a few variations - YUM! I used candied orange peel instead of cranberries, though, and although I cut back on the sugar a bit I probably should have cut back a touch more. Still, it's delicious - now I just need some fresh ricotta!

                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                          you know, i should have made a note about adjusting the sugar to taste. i think i typed up the recipe after having a particularly tart batch of rhubarb, and i've made it once or twice since then and thought it was too sweet. (i imagine that swapping candied orange peel for the tarter cranberries probably put the sweetness over the top for you.)

                                          i'm glad you're enjoying it anyway, but if you want to moderate the sweetness try mixing it with goat cheese & spreading on crackers, or serving with roast pork or chicken and a bitter green vegetable.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            LOL, great minds think alike - I finished off the last of it yesterday with some very salty aged gouda!

                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                              YUM. ever had aged goat gouda? amazing stuff.

                                      3. re: loukoumades

                                        I taste it raw! If it's fresh it tastes zingy and tangy and rhubarb-y.... if it's old, it just tastes plain sour.

                                        1. re: loukoumades

                                          Good rhubarb is *really* fragrant, too -- I'm trying to think of how to describe it. Floral-citrusy maybe? It should definitely NOT just come across as sour or acrid.

                                          1. re: geminigirl

                                            My favorite coffeecake, I love this coffee recipe, so does everyone else here ;)

                                          2. There's a famous pie place in Cambria, CA that has a RASPBERRY-rhubarb pie - a stroke of genius, because Mrs. O and I both decided it was actually an improvement, and plenty of people must agree.

                                            If your rhubarb comes from around here, in SoCal, it will definitely be short on flavor; there should be a very distinctive, almost metallic whang to the taste, and it should be pronounced. Of course everyone's tasting/smelling equipment has different settings, and it could be that you're missing strong receptors for that particular taste.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              and the leaves make a lovely salad (KIDDING JUST KIDDING, I'm sorry it was just a joke, yeesh) like Will I too wondered if maybe flavor receptors are at play here. I hate cucumber but love cilantro and know plenty who are the opposite or fine with either/neither. so it's not ridiculous to suppose that maybe it's just not your stalk. no shame, you tried. in my book that's what counts.

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                I do agree with you. I've come to realize that a lot of tasting is physiological. My mother gags around raw peppers or raw onions, and her sensitivity to any sort of spicy good makes me wonder if she's a super-taster - which means, of course, that onions would be like acide to her. Then a lot of people describe cilantro flavor as soap, which couldn't be farther from the truth to me. So, I do think that certain foods to taste differently to some people.

                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                Back home on the farm in Western Washington, we had a thriving patch of rhubarb right next to the bull pen. They got lots of water (runoff from the water trough) and lots of fertilizer, compliments of the bull.

                                                It was VERY flavorful, and made wonderful pies and cobblers, and a bowl of it was nice at breakfast time.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  I find it works in combo with a lot of fruits. Made an awesome rhubarb-plum-blueberrie pie once, just trying to use up some garden/fridge bits I had lying around. The best fruit pies IMO are sweet/sour (tart apple, sour cherry) so rhubarb just works. I think my all time favourite pie is rhubarb sour cream.
                                                  The only time I have found rhubarb lacking in flavour was when buying early, forced rhubarb that was light pink in colour.

                                                2. The favorite rhubarb recipe in our house is Nigella's Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess. I couldn't find it on her site but there are plenty of blogs reporting on it. Nigella does love rhubarb and there are lots of other recipes on her site http://www.nigella.com/search/results...

                                                  The cake is very moist, the cornmeal adds a lovely texture and the rhubarb is a great tangy contrast to the cake. For special occasions she has a Muscat mascarpone cream in the book to accompany the cake - I could happily eat it on its own, it really is fantastic.

                                                  1. DISAPPEARING RHUBARB: Butter a non-metal baking dish. Cover bottom with a thick layer of raw rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle it with a box of red Jello, any flavor, dry. Over this pour a box of dry cake mix (yellow or white). Over this pour 1 stick (1/4 lb) of butter, melted. Over this pour 1 cup hot water. Do not stir. Bake at 350* 30-40 minutes until cake is done. Serve with whipped cream. NOTE: Original recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar poured over the dry Jello but I found that too sweet---use your own judgment. The rhubarb disappears, leaving a sweet red sauce.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                      wow I just may have to try this, its intriguing.

                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                        that is the weirdest sounding recipe! What happens to the jello, does it get absorbed into the cake mix, or mix with the rhubarb to make the sauce?

                                                        1. re: loukoumades

                                                          Re "what happens", I think it mixes with the rhubarb the make the sauce. But I don't really know. It's probably magic.

                                                      2. rhubarb should be firm and crisp like celery. when i find at the grocery store, this is hardly the case, usually they store it too long and its already floppy. i was converted to love rhubarb with this recipe
                                                        also, i make rhubarb squares, which has no recipe, just a graham cracker crust, rhubarb and raspberry pie filling ingredients and a crumb topping. yum!

                                                        1. No one has mentioned roasting rhubarb, unless I missed it. This is one of the only ways to prepare rhubarb that it will remotely hold its shape. Plus, the sugar caramelizes and adds another dimension of flavor that complements the rhubarb more than mere sweetness. It's fantastic with drained or greek style yogurt, or over ice cream, of course.

                                                          My other favorite way to eat rhubarb is in one of Bill Neal's pie recipes from Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie. It's easiest if you have a food processor, as you chop up a whole orange, peel and all to cook down with sugar, rhubarb, and then add pecans. Decadent, delicious, and utterly original. Strawberry rhubarb pie is great, but this pie is better than great, given you don't despise rhubarb. Some people just don't care for that oxalic acid flavor and puckeriness.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                            Amyzan - do you put oil or anything on it when you roast it? At what temperature & for how long?

                                                            1. re: THewat

                                                              Oh, no, you definitely need sugar! I don't use any fat, though i suppose you could film the baking pan with butter. That wouldn't interfere with the sugar caramelizing. Here' s a good basic recipe to get you started, but know you can improvise, adding strawberries or other red berries, nuts, other citrus zest, etc. to your liking: http://www.doriegreenspan.com/2009/06...

                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                Thanks amyzan. I usually cook it by chopping 8 cups or a little more into 3/4 inch slices, putting them in a pot with 1 1/3 cups of sugar & 6 small peels of lemon, stirring a lot until I see the first sign of boiling, and then removing from the heat & covering. You really do have to take it off the heat at first sign of boiling - the window is short & I usually fear I'm pulling it early, but it cooks off the heat just fine. After it cools, it freezes really well - with a slice of pound cake, it can bring spring to January. I look forward to roasting it - a new trick!

                                                                1. re: THewat

                                                                  Yeah, I saw your post on rhubarb jam! I used to make strawberry rhubarb jam, but my pie plants are getting older and I need to divide them. The stalks aren't thick this year, and so far I've only had 1/2 pound yield. So, no jam this year, I'm afraid. Unless I find some really good looking rhubarb in a market. So far, it's not been local and fresh in the groceries, and the farmer's markets have sold out quickly, on strawberries, too. I keep telling myself I'm gonna get up early, and I keep sleeping in!

                                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                                    Sleeping in sounds nice. The recipe above isn't a jam - it stands alone as a dessert. Unlike the jam, it has some good tart kick to it & if you get it off the heat perfectly, the pieces mostly hold their shape. My parents had more rhubarb than any of us could handle, so it's true that I've made everything I can think of this year. Roasted will fit right in.

                                                          2. Here. Try one of these. It will make you feel better!

                                                            Rhubarb and Booze.

                                                            4 lb rhubarb chunks
                                                            2 cups sugar
                                                            6 cups water
                                                            3/4 cup fresh lime juice
                                                            1 bottle gin or vodka
                                                            1/3 cup orange liqueur
                                                            Club Soda

                                                            Cook the rhubarb in the sugar and water at a simmer until it is all mushy. Let it cool a bit then pour into a sieve and let it drain for a good while. I press down a bit to get all the juice. Cool, then chill. (I use a gallon jug.) Stir in everything else but club soda.
                                                            Pour into a glass with ice. Splash club soda on top and a piece of lime.

                                                            Note- I have always been disappointed with store bought rhubarb.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                              1. re: BelovedofIsis

                                                                Oh, did you try it? I am so happy you liked it!!

                                                              2. re: NanH

                                                                This is a fantastic idea. Summer cocktail party? Yes, i think so! :)

                                                                1. re: NanH

                                                                  What size bottle rum or vodka? Do you have a preference of one over the other? I am really excited about this recipe...I'm being over-run by our rhubarb plant!!!

                                                                  1. re: hungrymom

                                                                    I like both, but then alcohol of any kind and I are best of friends. :-) If you are making it for a group, I'd use vodka as the alcohol flavor is less distinctive. 750l size bottle.. I wouldn't use it with rum.

                                                                2. There are some really great ideas here. I have had pies with Rhubarb and Strawberries, that's it. Wonderful. I have made Rhubarb Jam. Still on my shelves after 3 years, but I became diabetic so squelched a lot of my old recipes. Making jams is super easy, seems daunting at first but once you're into the project, Rhubarb or not, it is as easy as just cooking the produoct, adding gelatin, putting into boiled jars, seal, cool, that's it. I think Rhubarb has no flavor, I don't think sour is a flavor, sweet is not a flavor nor is mush a flavor, it is a texture or a taste, but has no flavor of it's own, bitter taste maybe. The same with watemelon rind preserves. My mother made W. rind preserves and it was a memory I carry to this day. Until I made it for myself. Watermelon rind has no flavor of it's own, and like Rhubarb needs spices and sugar or other fruits. The secret is to not cook it until it is mush, (Rhubarb). I have about 150 cookbooks but only one is about cooking without sugar, but natural sweetners such as honey. These recipes are more complicated and the failure factor is high, for me that is. I am a lazy cook, but adventurous. East Indian recipes are best for these exotic plants, Try Oriental 5 spice and Indian Garam Masala for an intriguing twist to the traditional pie and cake spices. Try Rhubarb and dried Peaches, Apricots, You will have more texture and no mush. Remember that the fruits will keep on cooking as long as they are hot. But like Loukoumades says, why make something that has to have additives to have flavor. It will just taste like cinnamoin or cloves or what have you. I say why bother tryiing to make something sour, sweet, try pickling instead. The only reason for cooking is to eat foods that you like cooked. Preserving is only to keep foods from rotting and to have them for a day when you have nothing else. Right? Pickled veges or fruits, or sweet stuff will mostly taste like what you cook or preserve them with. Just walk past the Rhubarb and let someone else use it. I agree with Isolde about the savory recipes for Rhubarb, besides I love her name. There is a lot of power in that name, believe her. Hope I haven't blathered and bored you. Tim.

                                                                  1. just saw this in one of today's Tasting Table e-mails. no idea if it's any good, but might be worth trying...


                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. Rhubarb compote over ice cream, panna cotta, semi freddo, etc. is very nice. I like it in savoury preparations as well (i.e. braised with pork).

                                                                      1. I can't imagine how your rhubarb is turning brown---all I have ever seen cooks up into a beautiful shade of red. Are you overcooking it? I cut it into about 1-inch lengths, add about a cup of sugar for a bunch of rhubarb, a little water, and simmer it for maybe five minutes. And it has a distinctive delicate flavor. My Maine SIL serves the lovely red sweet-tart sauce warm over angelfood cake with vanilla ice cream on the side, a nice contrast of flavors, temperatures, and consistencies.

                                                                        1. Strawberry rhubarb soup with basil. It's soooo good. You only need a little, but you'll want more. It's in the Spoon Spring/Summer cookbook.