Rhubarb- it can be sweet, and it can be savory

My rhubarb plant is going crazy, and it’s all I can do to use it or lose it!  If you have a rhubarb plant in your backyard, you know that those large leaves are hiding a deliciously tangy stalk underneath that is the sure sign of the first harvest of spring.

Here are a couple of rhubarb ideas for you to tame that rhubarb tang into some fun, unexpected flavor profiles: one sweet, and one savory.

THE SWEET.  I got a gift of rhubarb from my lovely sister-in-law, straight from her Upper Peninsula garden.  After a ninety degree day on Saturday, I was craving the first sorbet of the year and made up this recipe!

Rhubarb Lavender Lemon sorbet
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Turn your backyard bounty into a lovely and layered cool spring treat. This sorbet looks like the bright pink of cotton candy but tastes like a refreshingly tangy rhubarb sweet tea!
  • 3 pounds of freshly picked rhubarb stalks, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons dried lavender flowers (dried lavender tea)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 drops pure lemon oil, or zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon vodka
  1. Add sugar and water to a dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add rhubarb, lavender, salt (and lemon zest if you are not using lemon oil) to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and cover. Cook until rhubarb has softened and breaks apart (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Place a sieve or strainer over a 2 quart saucepan, and pour the rhubarb mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Discard the solids.
  4. Add some ice and a bit of water to the dutch oven, and place the saucepan into the ice bath. Cool until mixture is about 40 degrees.
  5. If using lemon oil, add one drop to mixture.
  6. Add vodka and stir well.
  7. Pour liquid into sorbet/ice cream machine (I like to pour through a clean strainer one more time), and follow the machine manufacturer's directions.
  8. After removing from ice cream maker, freeze for one hour before serving.
  9. Makes 1½ Quarts.

THE SAVORY.  I love to make chutney- and in this case, served it with homemade bread at a function last week.

I found a great rhubarb chutney recipe at Epicurious, it’s from Bon Appetit (April 2003).  The chutney would also pair very well with a chevre (goat) cheese, or as a topping for grilled pork chops.

There you go… rhubarb can be sweet, and it can be savory, but it always wants to be used!  Love that rhubarb from your garden and eat it!


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