Rhubarb Has Arrived

After waiting so long for spring and watching the rhubarb coming up so slowly, they are ready!  Summer is here and we are up to our elbows in Rhubarb.  This past week we received about 150 kg - we picked some and some were dropped off by homeowners.  Wow!!!  It has taken most of 2 days just to wash it, chop it, juice it and tuck it away.

So what will be coming out of the kitchen?  Firstly we made lots of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam followed by Hot Pepper Rhubarb Spread.  This will satisfy both the sweet and savoury side of the market table.  Then Spiced Rhubarb Jam and Blueberry Rhubarb Jam is next on the list, to soon be followed by Mango Orange Rhubarb Jam.  The raspberries will be coming next and we will be happy to start producing Raspberry Rhubarb Jam and Raspberry Pear Rhubarb Jam.  Wow the kitchen smells like summer.

Rhubarb Juice
Rhubarb Juice

These wonderful jars are filled with rhubarb juice.  It is so ruby red in the spring that it almost looks like it should be strawberry juice.  We use this to make Lemon Pepper and Gin condiment and Sweet Chili Tri Sauce so these sauces are soon going to be pouring out and ready for the market tables.

Finally comes the ketchup.  We had just about used up all our reserves, but rest assured, we now have lots of raw material to keep our ketchup fans well supplied.

Keep the rhubarb coming - I don't think we can have too much.  And if we do have more than we can use, we will find people who want to use it.  It will not go to waste.

Farmer's Market Chili

Farmer’s Market Chili

I decided  that I wanted to make chili, so I started soaking the kidney beans on Friday night and put the ground beef I had from Natures's Green Acres  into the fridge to thaw.   I had decided to make a chili without tomatoes this time - just to be different. 

Nest was a trip to the Downtown Farmer’s Market in City Hall today to work for a bit at our table and then do some shopping.    

I visited Doef's Greenhouseswhich always has a tantalizing array of fresh locally grown veggies and bought some of their beautiful coloured peppers.   Then since we were sampling our Hot Pepper Rhubarb Spread today I decided to take it home at the end of the day, thinking it might be a good addition.    

Ingredients:

  • Dried kidney beans     3 cups, soaked overnight in 4 times the volume in cool water
  • Onion, chopped           1 ½ cups
  • Olive oil                       2 Tbsp.
  • Ground beef                2 pounds
  • Nature’s Green Nouveau Beef
  • Garlic, chopped                      2 cloves
  • Beef bouillon               2 cubes
  • Water                          2 cups
  • Chili powder                3 Tbsp - or to taste
  • Chipotle chili powder   3 Tbsp - or to taste
  • Sea salt                                   2 teaspoons
  • Sweet peppers                        2, finely chopped
  • Hot Pepper Rhubarb   ½ cup – or to taste

Method: 

  1. After beans are soaked – when the skins are loose and wrinkled - drain off the water, rinse and drain again.  Place beans in large pot and add water to generously cover the beans.  Bring to a full boil over high heat then reduce to medium heat, simmering until beans are cooked.  Check regularly to make sure they are always covered with water and stir to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot.   This should take about 30 minutes if they were well soaked the night before.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic and peppers and set aside in separate piles.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium heat, add oil, then the onions and cook, stirring until the onions are translucent.
Cooking Chili with beef and onion
Cooking Chili with beef and onion

4.  Add the ground beef and garlic and continue to cook until the beef is cooked.  (Hint – sample this beef when cooked – it is really wonderful in flavour and texture!)

5.  Add the bouillon cubes, water, chili and chipotle powders, and salt.   Continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, adding the beans when they are ready.  Cook a bit longer to meld the flavours then taste and correct seasonings.

Doef's peppers
Doef's peppers

6.  Add the peppers near the end so they retain their shape and colour.

7.  At serving time, scoop the chili into serving bowls and top with the Hot Pepper Rhubarb.  Mix it in to add a sweetness to the chili.  Serve extra chipotle chili powder or hot sauce of choice on the side.

Farmer's Market Chili with Hot Pepper Rhubarb
Farmer's Market Chili with Hot Pepper Rhubarb

Enjoy!!!!!

Visions of Sugar Plums for Christmas

We received lots of beautiful BC red plums in the fall and have planned to make something special with them.  So they are now out and ready for the markets. As we were closing in on the Christmas season Sugar Plum jam seemed like a most perfect jam for the gifting season.  It is made with plums and spices and tastes just like Christmas!!!   It will be at all our sales from now to Christmas so look for it.

Then we still had plums - what about Chinese Plum Sauce?   Wow it is really good!!   It is spicy and slightly sweet, full of ginger, garlic, onion and tons of spices.    It is great with any Asian foods such as egg rolls, pot stickers, spring rolls, deep fried dishes such as chicken balls, and so forth.   Use it beside or over pork, chicken, duck, wild meats or tofu.  Use it as a glaze on grilled meats or as a marinade.  It is a good starting place for making your own glazes as you can add more spice with Sriracha sauce or add curry, Chinese Five Spice powder or other flavours of your choice.

We have included a few recipes for your reference.

Grilled Pork Chops with Ginger Plum Sauce

Spicy Chicken Wraps 

Sweet Chili Tri Sauce - The Birth of a Sauce PLUS a Shared Recipe

As the chief cook, I am always thinking of new ways to use our rescued fruit.  We have 6 basic local fruits that we can count on rescuing each year - rhubarb, raspberries, sour cherries, pears, apples and crab apples (in abundance).  There are always other treasures that come along such as saskatoons, wild blueberries, herbs and even pumpkins in the fall plus the BC fruits we rescue from the Farmer's Market.  However, our staples are rhubarb and apples.  We found out pretty quickly that if we want to sell jams and condiments with these abundant fruits I have to find innovative ways to put them together.   Rhubarb is a wonderful fruit/vegetable as it is versatile, partners well with other fruits and provides a good carrier for strong flavours.  At present we probably have about 30 different recipes with rhubarb in them one way or the other.  It is also the first ingredient I consider when I want to create something new - especially as it is still so abundant. I had been thinking of making a variation of the Thai Sweet Chili sauce but I needed a couple of things to come together.  On one of our many rainy days in late June, I visited a local Mexican store and as there was nobody else there, I was able to ask lots of questions and was introduced to some new (to me) chili peppers.  I finally had the flavours I wanted.   So back in the kitchen we juiced some rhubarb (what else?),  soaked some of the new chili peppers and pulled together some other potential ingredients and started to create.  These days of creation are the best!!!   The process is to put together a few possible recipes, taste them, add something to tweak it one way or another, taste again and then tweak and taste.  As I now have some wonderful assistants from Ethiopia, they come with different food experience and knowledge, so we can sometimes be rather far apart at the start.  But with friendly competition and lots of laughter, we finally move towards perfection.  The amount of heat is still open to discussion but we did agree to a medium heat that will give a wonderful tingle at the end, but is still acceptable to a typical Canadian palette.

We call it Sweet Chili Tri Sauce as there are 3 chilis in it.  The sauce itself has a lovely full flavour before you get the heat.  There is the fruity body that is provided by rhubarb juice and a light smokiness given by one of the peppers.   Then we added a light touch of some other notes of flavour to fill the mouth before the chili peppers start their demand for attention.   I think as a team of cooks, we did a really great job with this one!!  When we took it to the market a couple of weeks ago to see what our customers thought - it was an instant success!

Ann Kusiak told me last week that it is a favourite in her family already, (alongside the Chipotle Rhubarb Ketchup) and when she told me how she used it I asked for her recipe.  Very kindly she shared it and I am forwarding it with this post.   Enjoy the recipe but before you get too deeply into the dipping, take a taste of the sauce by itself and see what you think.  Share your comments and recipes as well.

Green Onion Pancakes with Fruits of Sherbrooke Sweet Chili Tri Sauce.

Anne said this recipe is from the 1992 Moosewood Cookbook.

Flour                                     1 cup Salt                                        ½ tsp. (optional) Green onions                    3, finely sliced Water                                   ½ cup Oil for frying  (grapeseed is good)  or preheated oven at 350 F. Fruits of Sherbrooke Sweet Chili Tri Sauce

Combine flour and salt (if using) then mix in the onions. Add water and mix until it forms a dough ball. Divide dough into 6 pieces and on a floured surface, roll out or press with fingers into a 1/8” thick circle. In a heavy fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and pan fry each pancake for 3 – 5 minutes until golden. Alternately you can brush pancakes lightly with oil and bake in a pre-heated 350 F oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until cooked through. Serve warm with Sweet Chili Tri Sauce.

Thanks Anne.

Think Outside the Bread Box - TOBB Recipes

TOBB - At Fruits of Sherbrooke we create great jam and jelly and it is great on toast, bagels, English muffins, crackers and with peanut butter in a sandwich.  You already know how to do that! We are opening a new section in the recipes that we are calling - Think Outside the Bread Box - TOBB.  These are recipes and suggestions of how to use our product in ways beyond traditional toast.  Slowly we will build these recipes and welcome all contributions from our loyal customers.

For anyone who has encountered us at the markets you will have received the quick run down of TOBB suggestions.  Most people listen and then forget when they are ready for inspiration.   So here they are!!

As all of our jam and jelly products are made with a full fruit component (and no water) before adding the sugar and pectin, there is lots of flavour.  And since the 'rescued' fruits have not been sprayed with pesticides or grown with chemical fertilizers, we use the whole fruit with their skins intact - so this increases the flavour profile.   (For any purchased fruits or 'rescued' BC fruits, we remove the skins before use.)  All of this is to explain that with a full fruit product, you can mix it into a variety of new mixtures and the fruit flavour will still remain.

So take a look at the different recipes or suggestions in this section and have fun!!

Think Outside the Bread Box Recipes