Well, the season has started! If you haven’t been using your Mehu-Liisa in your kitchen throughout the winter to steam meats and vegetables or to make soup in the water pan, it’s time to take it out of storage, dust it off and get ready for the wonderful fruit to come.
Rhubarb is starting to ripen up in most states at this time of year. Handsome plants can be seen in all their elephant-eared glory growing in borders and vegetable beds in suburban and rural yards. Memories of tart-sweet rhubarb jam and strawberry-rhubarb pie are resurfacing and encouraging us to get out there and pull a few stalks.
Here is some interesting info gleaned from the Wikipedia entry on Rhubarb:
Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties.
Hothouse rhubarb is usually brighter red, more tender and sweeter-tasting than cultivated rhubarb.
The green-stalked rhubarb is more robust and has a higher yield, but the red-coloured stalks are much more popular with consumers. [This is an interesting factoid as I had always thought that the deeper, richer red stalks were the best].
Rhubarb first came to the United States in the 1820s, entering the country in Maine and Massachusetts and moving westwards with the European American settlers. [I would have thought that rhubarb had been here since the early colonial times. Learn something new everyday!]
Rhubarb can be dehydrated and infused with fruit juice. In most cases it is infused with strawberry juice to mimic the popular strawberry rhubarb pie.
[This would be a good project to try. Let me know if any of you have tried this. The luscious, silken strawberry juice you get with Mehu-Liisa would be wonderful for this.]
I am going to process some rhubarb for juice to make fruit soup during the fall and winter. The recipe is very simple:
Rhubarb-Dried Fruit Soup
– 1 qt rhubarb juice (sweetened or unsweetened)
– dried fruit to suit your tastes, about 1-1.5 cup full (I would stay away from prunes as they will overpower the rhubarb taste.)
– sugar to suit your taste in sweetness (about 1/3-2/3 cup per quart of juice. Less if the rhubarb juice is pre-sweetened.)
– corn or potato starch (I prefer potato) to loosely thicken one quart of liquid
– a touch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
Soak the dried fruit in hot water to cover until soft. Bring the rhubarb juice to a simmer. Add the sugar if necessary. Add soaked, dried fruit with its water to the rhubarb juice. Add spices if desired. Bring to a simmer again and add starch (mix the starch with a small amount of warm water to make a slurry. Add this while you whisk the soup). The soup should be the consistency of heavy cream.Taste and adjust seasonings. This soup can be served with milk rice hot or cold or by itself. It makes a great breakfast meal with the milk rice.
1 cup medium grain rice (basmati or jasmine make interesting variations.)
1 qt 2% milk (or go for broke and use Half and Half.)
1/2 tsp salt
I like the milk rice without sweetener as the soup will bring that to the dish. However, if you’d like a bit festive version, add 2 TB sugar, 1 stick cinnamon, 1/2 cup sultanas or regular raisins.
Cook all ingredients in a double boiler until liquid is absorbed and the rice is very creamy and plump, stirring occasionally.
Well, there you go. Have fun with this first fruit of the season and as always, if you have any questions, drop me an email message.
Thanks for being a part of our forum and spreading the word about the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer.