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.

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.

Surprise Muffins

This week we are featuring 2 great jams to go in these muffins. Strawberry Rhubarb Jam has over 55% rescued fruit and it is a perennial favourite for many.  We do buy the strawberries for even though they do grow here, nobody gives them away!!  Use it on toast or ice cream sundaes or consider adding it to these easy muffins that travel easily.  I have attached a photo of our older label but that jar is surrounded by the fruit you will find inside.

Gingered Saskatoon and Apple Jam is made with local saskatoons and our local apples with a lovely zing of ginger to add a sparkling note.  It is great on toast but consider this jam as a topper to ice cream and cheesecake, or mixed into your morning yogurt.

When you taste our jams you will find the fruit flavour fills your mouth.  This is because it is made with 100% fruit with no fillers or added juices.  On the occasions when we need moisture in the pot to start cooking our jams, we only add juice that we made ourselves from the bounty of the summer.

Surprise Muffins

These little treats are great for snacks, lunch boxes or popping in your hand as you run out the door as the jam is inside and doesn’t mush around in the packaging.   They have some whole wheat flour and you can pump up the fibre and nutrition by adding 2 Tablespoons of ground flax seeds, bran or seeds and nuts of your choice.

All purpose flour              1 1/4 cups Whole wheat flour            3/4 cup Sugar                               1/2  cup Baking powder                   2 teaspoons Baking soda                      1 teaspoon Salt                                   ½ teaspoon Egg                                   1 Oil                                     1/4  cup Low fat yogurt, plain         1 cup Vanilla extract                   1 teaspoon Fruits of Sherbrooke jam   1/3 cup

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare 12 regular muffin tins by lightly greasing. 2.  In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients plus the seeds, nuts and extra grains. 3.  In a smaller bowl beat the egg (and honey if you are using it instead of sugar) and oil until smooth, then mix in yogurt and vanilla.  When thoroughly combined pour over dry ingredients and stir gently until combined. 4.  Fill muffin cup to 2/3 full and scoop batter in cup with back of spoon to leave a depression in the centre.  Add a generous teaspoon of jam to the depression and then top with the remaining batter. 5.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Test if needed by putting toothpick down the side to avoid the jam. 6.  Remove from oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool on a rack.

ENJOY!!

VARIATIONS:    I love doing this part so hopefully you will always find it after our recipes.

This where you can customize your own signature muffins with our unique jams. * Try substituting  ¼ cup quinoa flour for ¼ cup whole wheat flour for added protein. *  Substitute 1/3 cup melted honey for the sugar.  Add it to the liquid ingredients before combining all. *  For the Strawberry Rhubarb Jam consider adding 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or ½ of nutmeg to the dry ingredients for a lovely change.  To really notch it up add 1/2 tsp. ground anise – which imparts a lovely licorice flavour.  Actually it just gets you ready to search out our Strawberry Rhubarb jam with Sambuca! * For the yogurt, please use unsweetened plain.  If you use sweetened ones with added fruit you will increase the sugar and add a new flavour element (which might be just fine if you like it that way!)