Spring has arrived quite late this year in Wisconsin, and I’ve been not so patiently waiting for my rhubarb plants to grow prolifically. And this week that happened!
I got started by making this smooth, vanilla bean rhubarb sauce so that I can enjoy it each day on something new. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and intensely rhubarb forward. It’s smooth and almost creamy, a delicious topping for many different treat.
Macerating the rhubarb pieces with sugar and salt allows the fruit to release some of its moisture, removing the need to add water; a technique I learned from Braised and Deglazed. This creates a flavorful, concentrated rhubarb sauce that’s absolutely delicious and sets this recipe apart. Orange peel is also added to the rhubarb while it sits, a citrus infusion that pairs perfectly with rhubarb.
This rhubarb sauce is so versatile. Here are my favorite ways to enjoy it:
Rhubarb itself is super crunchy, puckery tart and tangy when raw, so it’s meant to be cooked with a sweetener to create balance and soften its texture. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that pairs well with parallel ingredients like lemon and orange. I also love to use ginger or vanilla bean paste with rhubarb; the soft, floral notes being the perfect compliment.
Rhubarb is easy to cook or bake with, no peeling needed! Just remove the leaves (which are poisonous), and trim the root end. Then cut into pieces. The thin outer edges of rhubarb stalks break down with heat, and also contribute to its beautiful pink color.
This recipe freezes well, allowing you to preserve rhubarb in a delicious way for months. To freeze, let the rhubarb sauce cool completely, then pour into a glass jar. Leave an inch of head space. Then screw on cover and freeze upright. Rhubarb sauce can be frozen for 4-5 months.