I’m starting an unofficial “Rhubarb Week” today because I realized that I’m woefully lacking in rhubarb recipes even though I grow it and harvest it each spring. Oh, sure I’ve posted a Spicy Rhubarb Chutney that makes pork so good you wouldn’t believe it (and makes a fine salad dressing, too) and I have a Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce that I will occasionally make to have in the freezer. But none of the muffins, bars, tarts or baked goods that I make every season. Well, that will change this week (and a bit into next week) starting with this unusual Monday posting – so get ready for rhubarb!
And friends, I’m starting with a rhubarb butter that will throw everything you thought you knew about rhubarb out the window. Think you don’t like rhubarb? Um, dare you to try this. Think you’ve been-there-done-that with fruit butters? Not even close. This is simply to.die.for.
Which, to be honest, surprised the heck out of me. When I was creating this, I thought it would be okay – maybe even good as I added my favorite lemon flavor. But I wasn’t sure – lemon isn’t known for being sweet and rhubarb is usually paired with sweet things like strawberries and oranges. But since I like things on the tart side, I persevered – and am I ever glad I did.
I think it’s pretty much the perfect balance of sweet-tart, though you could add a bit more honey if you want it sweeter. And the ingredients are so simple and real: just rhubarb, honey and lemon with a bit of water. Yep, that’s it – three ingredients! Oh, but the flavor isn’t simple at all – something magical happens when you slow cook these ingredients for a couple hours until thick and smooth. I pretty much ate it right from a spoon.
Though of course it’s terrific on muffins (pictured is a rhubarb muffin coming soon!), toast and desserts like vanilla ice cream, butter cakes or shortbread. Oh, just writing this is giving me more ideas: this would be so good as the jam in thumbprint cookies or the filling in mini tarts.
That’s assuming there’s anything left after being eaten off the spoon, that is.
So here’s your dare – make this, even if you think you don’t like rhubarb, and then let me know if you think it’s as good as we do, too. You can preserve it using a water-bath canner or by freezing it, whichever you prefer. This is a small batch recipe, though, making only 3 half pints, so however you preserve it, I think you’re going to need to make sure you have enough!
Honey-Lemon Rhubarb Butter
- 6 c. chopped rhubarb (1-1/2 to 2 lbs.)
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 c. honey
- zest & juice of 1 small lemon
- Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- Puree the contents of the pot with an immersion blender (or carefully transfer to a blender and blend) until smooth.
- Reduce heat all the way to low and continue cooking for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the rhubarb butter is thickened (*see photos below of what the butter looks like at 1 and 2 hour intervals to get an idea of when it’s done) and doesn’t run when a bit is added to a plate.
- To Can: as butter nears completion, prepare three 1/2-pint jars and keep hot until needed. Prepare canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions, and start the water heating in a canner. Go here to see step-by-step canning instructions.
- When the butter is ready, ladle into 1 jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, wiping the rim with a damp cloth, and attaching the lid. Place jar in prepared canner. Fill and close remaining jars.
- Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes. Carefully remove to a towel-lined counter and let cool. Check seals before labeling and storing in a cool, dark place.
- To Freeze: let butter cool a bit and divide into freezer-safe jars, leaving 2-inches headspace for expansion. Seal, label and freeze for up to a year. Thaw before using and keep in the refrigerator (will keep in the fridge for a few weeks).
*What the Honey-Lemon Rhubarb Butter looks like at different stages of cooking: