Rhubarb-Lemonade Compote

Really? That’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?

Over the weekend, MIL came over and planted the flowers that she had bought for our gardens last Friday. She’s been doing this every year since she lived with us and it makes her feel good. To be honest, it’s nice. It’s one less thing that The Hubbs & I have to worry about and it truly does make her feel like she’s doing something good for us, which she is.

What I didn’t know until late Sunday night when I came downstairs to fix myself a snack, was that she had also brought me bag of rhubarb, presumably from her garden. I had been obsessing a little bit over rhubarb for the last couple of weeks and had opted to wait for the rhubarb at Mom & Dad’s to grow so I could do a little somethin’-somethin’, if you get my meaning.

My Dad hates the rhubarb plant that’s living in their garden. He’s tried for years to get rid of it and it just isn’t happening. This year he was planning on taking Round Up to it and then my parents could start fresh and new with the garden since he’s now pretty much retired and can dedicate time to these sorts of things. Mom had been systematically pulling out all the rhubarb as it came up in hopes of killing it off by not letting it grow, but that’s just not working for them… and then I got obsessed about the rhubarb and ixnayed his plans for the year. He refuses to even look at or think about what to do with the garden until that rhubarb is gone. *sigh* Perhaps I can get one harvest of rhubarb in and then he can do what he needs to destroy that thing.

There have been a lot of contemplations about rhubarb jam, rhubarb upside down cakes, rhubarb compote, and rhubarb squares going on in my head the last few weeks. The only problem is that I didn’t have any rhubarb at my disposal and I’m really not into paying for it when I know that there is some to be had for free if I just asked the right people. I found out last week when I was dropping off sticky rice for J & R that their rhubarb plant is going a little bit willy nilly in their beautiful front garden and I could have taken some home, but my energy levels still hadn’t quite reached normal and still haven’t reached normal. Perhaps I will see how I feel when we go to D&D and maybe snaffle a few stalks in exchange for whatever I plan on making with them.

The strange thing is that I didn’t grow up eating rhubarb. For some reason it was “the” vegetable to have in your garden, because it grows exceedingly well in Calgary without any effort, but I’m still not entirely sure as to why Mom chose to put it in the garden since my family:
A) Doesn’t generally eat jam
B) Doesn’t generally eat dessert
C) Doesn’t have a history of making preserves, relishes, chutneys, etc

I suppose there is the distinct possibility that I had asked her to grow rhubarb when I was younger because all the families we knew had it in their gardens (and genes) to make all of the above items. So again, this leaves me with the conundrum of “what do I do with rhubarb”?

The bag MIL left for me wasn’t a lot — it was enough to make just under 3 cups worth of cooked rhubarb. I was considering the idea of making an upside down rhubarb cake for this weekend, but was informed that The Hubbs’ sibblings do not like rhubarb in the slightest, so I decided to make a simple compote for the two of us to enjoy at our leisure.

I will preface this by saying one thing: Oups. First of all, I didn’t measure my chopped rhubarb and secondly, I didn’t have any orange juice on hand. Now people who are familiar with the makings of any rhubarb compote probably already know that I didn’t actually need orange juice, it just so happened that the recipe I was eyeing up sounded like a tasty idea.

So what did I end up doing? I substituted lemon juice for orange juice. Oups. Lemons are a whole heckuva lot more sour than oranges and so I had to significantly increase the amount of sugar in the recipe, imagine that! ^_^ The batch I made filled just under 3x250mL freezer jam jars. I don’t know why I decided that freezing the compote would be the best course of action, but I did and 2 of the jars are labelled and sitting pretty in the freezer for later consumption.

The compote is pretty, I’ll give it that, but it tastes like… well… lemonade in a semi-solid form that happens to be red and softly chunky. It’s not too sweet, it has quite a nice lemony tartness to it, which I think would go fantastically over top a bowl of vanilla ice cream or mixed in with some vanilla yoghurt. One thought I had was that you could put a spoonful at the bottom of a glass of gingerale or even just fizzy club soda and it would bring about a lovely tart and pink sweetness.

Rhubarb-Lemonade Compote

Rhubarb-Lemonade Compote
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (or more, to taste)

Put all the ingredients into a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Turn down the heat to simmer and cook rhubarb down until it softens.
Use a potato masher to smooth out lumps if desired.
Let cool completely before transferring to freezer jam jars and storing in freezer.
Makes just under 3x250mL jars.

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