So...that was a long week. Instead of periodically dropping in and promising posts, I figured I might as well actually write one and post it.
Rhubarb, rhubarb rhubarb...I am having mixed results with rhubarb plants. For a hardy, easy going perennial I really have managed to balls it up. Of the two expensive fancy variety crowns that we planted on the allotment last year, one died and rotted within the month and the other did very little all year and hadn't emerged by the end of March this year (which is late around these balmy parts). I bought two more crowns, cheap common variety ones this time, and dug new holes close to the first two. In the process I discovered one budding crown deep under the surface - I say one, I had turned it into four with my fork by the time I realized what it was. The two new crowns remain on the plot and appear to be doing well and two of the four bits of root that I managed to split are now growing incredibly well in large pots in the yard, in complete shade. Who knew?
So, no personal harvest this year. However, our allotment neighbours have abandoned their plot, and the path separating us from them. They have a huge rhubarb patch that has gradually encroached across the paths and into our broad beans. So call this a contractor's fee for freeing up the overgrown paths on their behalf:
I may have a terrible track record at cultivating it, but I can pilfer it with the best of them. I love it! It's pink! And really, really tart and slightly poisonous tasting, which adds a little thrill to the eating experience. We brought back a lot of rhubarb, the back seat of the car was stuffed too. We gave some away which made barely a dent in it. The last two weeks have consequently been rhubarb appreciation fortnight in this house. Some was dipped in sugar and munched raw, but there is only so much you can eat like that before you succumb to kidney failure. To the preserving pan!
Makes approximately 2 pints
6 cups rhubarb, coarsely diced
2 onions, diced,
I clove garlic
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups white sugar
1 cup spirit vinegar*
1 cup water
1 rounded tsp ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 bay leaves
1 rounded tsp sea salt
*I confess I used wine vinegar, as that's all I had. In my professional opinion as a first time ketchup maker, spirit vinegar would have tasted better. Use that.
Bring all of the ingredients to the boil then simmer for about one hour:
When everything has softened and the rhubarb has disintegrated to goo, remove the bay leaves. Remove the pan from the heat and use a stick blender to puree the pulp. Return the pan to the heat (if necessary) and simmer gently until the puree reaches a ketchup consistency. The bubbles and stirring will leave a trace on the surface when it reaches the right consistency.
Bottle into hot sterilized jars (bottles if you have them...we don't).
Run out and buy chips to test as a matter of urgency...
It's good. Two pints of ketchup should get us through to autumn, when I will probably have another tomato failure with which to whip up another batch of Ugly Tom's. I am actually kind of hoping for a failure, if I am being honest, with just half a jar left and a whole lot of summer to get through.
Other stuff was done with rhubarb in this house. Those tales of rhubarb are for another day. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the pink stuff before its season is completely over.