Rhubarb sauce is one of those delightful things that I eat when I’m at my Mom’s house–but that I rarely make, myself. Because: it takes ten minutes to chop up the rhubarb and get it on the stove.
Then you have got to occasionally stir it, which takes an additional two seconds. Per stir.
Mom doesn’t let these nitwitty time constraints keep her from making rhubarb sauce. We’ll be at Mom and Dad’s place, and Mom will be fussing around (as she does) fetching us glasses of cold water and maybe a cookie or two and then she’ll say those magic words: “Hey, do you want some rhubarb sauce?” The day will brighten. I’ll hold onto my cookie because rhubarb sauce is a lovely thing to eat with a cookie. Maybe I’ll even take a second one. 🙂
Mom will serve us cold, cold rhubarb sauce from her ‘fridge in little custard cups, with more cookies. Life is good. It is a handy thing, is it not, that calories don’t count when you’re at your mother’s house? Especially when life is especially busy in the summertime, and you sometimes forget to eat.
You know, don’t you, Gentle Reader, that rhubarb is actually surprisingly good for you, because you read (cough) quality blogs that remind you of such facts. And rhubarb baked into a pie is a sublime type of dessert. But a person doesn’t always have time to make a pie, you know? But. A person nearly always has time to make rhubarb sauce. In the summertime, your time is limited. Did I already say that? Oh yes, I did. It bears repeating. Summer is a busy time. There is sunblock to slather, the pool to visit, bike rides to go on. You have a new puppy. And possibly some new livestock. I know your life, because I’m living it, too. Even, possibly, more so.
That said, today I noticed that I still had a few pounds of rhubarb in the ‘fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste. I pulled them out. I addressed these stalks, quite forcefully: “This very day, you will be sauce. This is my promise to you.”
That forceful addressing is key in this case, Gentle Reader. I recommend it. Now the die is cast. You can’t go back on your word. Because who would break a promise made to a handful of rhubarb? Not I. And not you, either, I’ll warrant. That is not something that we do.
Rhubarb sauce satisfies that rhubarb-hankering, but takes only minutes to make. Minutes. You can eat it hot out of the pan, refrigerate it and eat it cold from the ‘fridge, pour it over ice cream, puddle it over pancakes or waffles, slather it on homemade bread, mix it with cream, are you following me here? Here’s one more idea: Greek yogurt + homemade granola + rhubarb sauce on top. Oooh, that’s yummy, too.
In a word: a perfectly simple thing to make out of those last few stalks of rhubarb. Okay, I’ll admit, that was more than one word. Math never was my thing.
So here we go. As I made dinner, I made this sauce, too. In minutes (she sang out, triumphantly!) I had it chopped up in a big pot. I decided to cook it in the oven (one more simplifying step!) and to add ginger root to it because–holey moley I love ginger!–and also I discovered a few bags of ginger root in the freezer from last fall’s digging. Yay!
Here’s the easiest way possible to make good on your promises to your last handful of rhubarb, and make your own rhubarb-ginger sauce in the oven.
- Chop up the rhubarb in smaller, bite-sized pieces. Add sugar* and stir. *Now, don’t balk on this one. Rhubarb demands sugar, not only to temper its tartness, but also to help break down its fibrously stringy nature. A good rule of thumb is one cup of sugar (white or brown) per 4 cups of rhubarb, but you can customize that according to how much tartness you like. I personally like more tartness, so I only add about 3/4 cups of sugar, or less. 🙂 If you have sugar-sensitive folks to consider, you can use other sweeteners, of course: maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, and so on. Be aware that if you use honey or maple syrup, to simmer your sauce at a lower temperature to avoid burning.
- Put into a heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), adding just a splash of water. Cover.
- Turn the oven to 350° and set your timer for 30 minutes. Cook.
- Stir in your seasonings. Rhubarb with sugar makes a completely tasty sauce, but it also is fun to play around with other flavors, too. I’m a complete ginger
freakdevotee, so I peeled a couple of knobs of ginger root and then tossed them into the blender, and stirred it into my sauce. I like to add a tsp. of vanilla and a handful of lemon zest at the end of the simmer time, too, if I have the energy (yawn). We are trying to keep this simple, right? Any of the following can be added: almond extract, ground nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, and so on.
- Remove lid , stir well, and bake for another 20 minutes, or until your sauce is thick and . . . well, saucy. It will reduce from a watery, unimpressive mess to a velvety, toothsome sauce as it reduces. When it gets to this point, stir it well and remove from the oven. If you don’t like a chunky sauce, grab your potato masher and mash away, baby. If the chunks don’t offend you, by all means, leave them in.
- Eat while hot, or refrigerate. Then you can be the cool personage who pulls out little custard cups of rhubarb sauce with cookies when you have callers. This sauce also freezes beautifully in freezer bags or containers.
- Mine never makes it to the freezer. Just sayin’.
Garden tip: Once your rhubarb stalks are all pencil(ish)-sized, you need to lay off the picking, in order to give the plant time to rest and grow roots. Also, here in Nebraska, the bugs begin to get into the rhubarb about this time of year–late May to early June–which is another cue to stop picking, also.) I thoroughly weed and mulch the patch and remind myself NOT TO NEGLECT THE RHUBARB. It’s easy to do. It’s self-sufficient. Your carrots need thinning; the tomatoes are setting on so you need to study them constantly, et al. But if you give your rhubarb plants just a little attention–watering the plants when they are very dry, keeping a thick mulch around them to keep the weeds down, and applying an extra thick layer of mulch and well-rotted manure in the fall, you’ll be amazed at how much nicer and more abundant your rhubarb will be in the spring!
That there is free advice, gentle reader, cause I love ya so thoroughly.
If you take the ten minutes and a few seconds (plus cooking time) to make this sauce, do come back and share with me in the comments and even–saaay!!–post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #vomitingchicken and thank you! 🙂
Facebook shares, tweets, etc. are always appreciated around these here parts, too, *hint.*
I love you guys!
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