I recently tried rhubarb tea at a friend’s house – not sure where she’d got it from as I’d never seen it before but it was really tasty so I thought I’d have a go at making my own with the last of the rhubarb harvested from the garden this week.
I sliced the rhubarb into thin slices and blanched it briefly before dehydrating it – it took about 10 hours to fully dry it out. Then I blitzed the dried stalks in my food processor and stored it in a airtight tub ready for use.
It was pretty simple to make and resulted in a lovely lightly pink and refreshing homemade tea. I think next time I’ll try adding some ginger or possibly mixing it with some dehydrated apple to add some extra warmth and sweetness.
Looking forward to making more teas with the Autumnal harvests just around the corner.
We always get a good crop of rhubarb throughout the growing season – I often make jam, crumbles and cakes but I wanted to try something a bit different so decided to give ice cream a try. It’s fantastic – so tasty that I can’t believe it isn’t more common. I’ll definitely be making this again, and probably again.
I got the recipe from ‘The Ultimate Ice Cream’ book by Bruce Weinstein and have adapted the ingredients and measurements for the UK.
1lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
300 ml water
Juice of a lime
150 ml maple syrup
200 g caster sugar
1 large egg plus one additional egg yolk
2 teaspoons corn flour
300 ml milk
300 ml double cream
Combine the rhubarb, water and lime juice in a medium saucepan and place over a low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has broken down, approx 10-15 minutes.
Add the maple syrup, return to a simmer and cook for a further 2 minutes. Put the mixture through a sieve or a blender and puree. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, beat the sugar into the egg and egg yolk until thickened and a pale yellow. Beat in the corn flour and set aside.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium to heavy saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over a low heat. Stir constantly until the custard begins to thicken. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a sieve into a large clean bowl and allow to cool slightly before adding the rhubarb puree and cream. Mix well and then cover and refrigerate until cold.
Once the mixture has cooled freeze in your ice cream maker according to the instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can freeze the mixture (in a freezer safe tub) but will need to ensure you take it out and stir thoroughly regularly to break down any ice crystals as it freezes.
It’s exceptionally mild today and my thoughts can’t help but look toward Spring. Despite the freezing temperatures for a large part of the Winter, we’ve had very little snow in comparison to previous years. I haven’t forgotten the heavy snow at the end of April 2016 that brought the chicken run down though.
The rhubarb is bursting out of the ground just now and our seed potatoes have arrived – this year I’ve gone for Epicure (had to be really :o), Mayan Gold, a favourite with top chefs, Salad Blue – they’re actually blue all the way through and some Pink Fir Apples because I liked the name. This year I won’t make the same mistake I did last year – I put them out too early and a few late frosts meant we didn’t get great yields in comparison with the year before.
None of the Spring bulbs seem to be coming up – they were from two years ago and I replanted them using a multilayering method last year, guess they didn’t like it as they’re not playing ball. I have however ordered a load of summer bulbs for the front garden.
The hens are still incarcerated because of the avian flu restrictions – with an increasing number of outbreaks being confirmed down South the past couple of weeks I’m not sure they’ll have their sentences commuted on the 28th February either. I guess time will tell…
What a miserable few weeks of rain we’ve had – the grass is going wild and I still haven’t had chance to try out the cordless strimmer that the lovely folks at GTech sent me a couple of weeks ago to review.
My soggy garden inspections are showing that it’s going to be a bad year for crops this year – we haven’t seen so much as a blossom on any of our apple trees, we have 2 gooseberries between our two bushes and no blueberries at all.
On the plus side, our blackcurrants and rhubarb are both doing very well and it looks like we’ll be able to start harvesting some of early variety potatoes soon. The newly planted herb garden is doing well and we also have tomatoes growing nicely in the conservatory, despite everything being a lot later this year after the extended Winter.
The chickens have managed to dig up most of the plants in our recently planted bed – periwinkles, tiarella, heucheras and helibores have all been tossed asunder by the naughty little beasts. We’re going to have to replant what we can salvage and then cane-off the bed until they’ve established themselves.
Praying for some nicer weather this week as the to-do list is growing longer daily. I’ve been sent a self-watering hanging basket by Stewarts so I’m keen to see how that works and finally get to test the strimmer.
I’m also quite excited to have been invited to RHS Tatton Park by Stiehl on the 16th and it looks like we’ll be in for a treat. Can’t wait to see the show gardens there.
In the week that saw us celebrate our 3rd anniversary of moving to our country cottage we saw a lot of changes in the garden.
We have a pair of nesting blue tits in our bird box (yay), the starlings have already fledged and there are now sparrows in their old nest. The swallows are back swooping and darting all around and the geese have returned to the fields roundabout, some with young. After a seemingly never-ending Winter, Spring is most definitely here.
The garden has gone bonkers, everything’s growing and blooming and budding and it’s heartwarming to see! The cherry blossom is out and the beech hedge is finally turning, that fresh green really makes a difference in our garden.
The (short) spell of warmer, sunny weather was filled to the brim with ‘getting shit done’ in the garden – everything from getting the potting shed set-up to clearing, weeding and edging, sowing seeds and bulbs (better late than never) and I even made up some hanging baskets inspired by the book Crops in Pots, that I reviewed a while back.
We had a lovely trip to The Secret Herb Garden (LOVE this place) to source new herbs as the chickens have self-seasoned and destroyed what we had. We got lemon verbena, lovage and borage (inspired by Petal, Leaf, Seed), several new rosemarys, chamomile, sage, lemon balm, oregano, fennel, jasmine and rhubarb, amongst others.
Our new front lawn is looking great and we’ve just bought a new mower and hedge cutter so we’re getting tooled up to tackle the front garden.
So much to do now but sadly the torrential rain is back so no idea when we’ll be able to crack on – we live in hope though, always hope!
Rhubarb is one of the best growers in our garden (being an arctic plant the hard frosts we get in the hills keep it very happy) and I’ve spent a lot of time refining this recipe but I’m finally happy with it. I often make up a half batch (just 2 jars) if I have some windblown stalks needing using.
It’s super quick and easy to make, not to mention, very tasty!
1kg rhubarb, washed & sliced into 2cm lengths
1kg caster sugar
zest & juice of 1 lemon
75-100g fresh ginger, finely chopped (I like a strong ginger zing)
(This makes about 4 average jars)
- Place the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice & zest into a bowl, stir and cover and set aside for a couple of hours.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved in the rhubarb juices transfer into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.
- Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and then bring to the boil.
- Continue to cook until the rhubarb is really tender and it has reached setting point – this will probably take about 10-15 mins.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilized jars. Seal immediately.
Testing for Setting Point
Put a couple of saucers in your freezer before setting the jam to heat. When ready to test, drop ½ a teaspoon of the jam onto a saucer, leave for 30 seconds and then gently push with your fingertip – if the jam ‘wrinkles’ then setting point has been reached. If not, cook for a few minutes more and test again.
Sterilising Your Jam Jars
I do this in the microwave, soak the jars in hot water and then put the still wet jars into the microwave on full power for about 1 minute (until they are dry) and then use immediately.
Our garden has been woefully neglected – it hasn’t been touched since September and is in a very sorry state – we’re just itching for some better weather to be able to get out and start making amends now.
We decided to take a cheeky long weekend and get stuck into the gardening we missed out on after last weekend’s return of Winter weather.
We had a ton of soil to move from the front of the cottage to the back garden, a job in itself. This year we ordered it from onlinesoil.co.uk – we certainly paid for the 20kg sack convenience and for the high quality (screened to 10mm) this time (last year we bought 3 x ton bags of standard top soil and the lorry couldn’t get close enough to deliver it where it was needed) but I think it’s well worth it, it feels, amazing and is a really rich dark brown – think our veggies will love it!
Delighted to see the rhubarb springing up – we only planted it last year and so we weren’t able to harvest any of it but things will be different this year – lots of plans for these stalks including Gin.
In other news I potted our Buddleias and Berberis (it was a nice sunny, warmish afternoon) what a mistake, the frosts came back and within days the leaves on the Buddleias were dying. I’ve put them into the conservatory for now, fingers crossed they recover.