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Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Local cooks share recipes for rhubarb

By Daily Standard Staff
The Daily Standard recently asked readers to share their favorite rhubarb recipes and several responded.
Area resident Julie Vogel sent this tried-and-true recipe that came from her great-aunt.

Rhubarb Pineapple Jelly
4 cups white sugar
5 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into pieces
Cook rhubarb and sugar together 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Take off stove and add:
1 small box strawberry, raspberry or cherry Jell-0
Stir till dissolved. Then add:
1 cup crushed pineapple, very well drained.
Stir together, put into jars and let cool. Put in freezer when cooled.
Note: This does not get solid like regular jelly, but it does thicken some. It is also good on ice cream.
Joyce Smith enjoys rhubarb upside down cake, explaining the recipe is quick and easy to make. Mix it up before a meal and serve it warm for dessert, she says.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
Several drops red food coloring (optional)
2 cups finely diced rhubarb
1 package white cake mix
Combine butter, sugar and food coloring. Add rhubarb; toss lightly. Spread in 81/4-by-13/4-inch round overware baking dish.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour half of batter (see note below) over fruit. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) about 35 minutes. Loosen edges and invert on plate. Let stand 3-5 minutes; then lift off baking dish. Serve warm with whipped cream.
Note: Bake remaining batter as cupcakes or use loaf-size cake mix - it just fits.

Rhubarb trivia:
• Rhubarb most likely originated in Mongolia or Siberia and then spread to Europe. Some historians believe an unnamed Maine gardener obtained seed or root stock from Europe between 1790 and 1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts and by 1822 rhubarb was sold in produce markets. Others credit Benjamin Franklin with introducing rhubarb to the colonies.
• Some folks nicknamed rhubarb "pieplant" due to its popularity in pies, but the distinct flavor also highlights other savory fare. There is even a day - June 9 - dedicated as National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
• Although considered by many as a fruit, botanists classify rhubarb as a perennial vegetable.
• Rhubarb stalks are the edible part of the plant. Dispose of the leaves which contain high amounts of toxic oxalic acid.
• Don't wash stalks until you're ready to use them. Keep them in the refrigerator crisper or wrapped in paper towels. If they are placed in plastic, don't seal the bag. It will last three to seven days.
• When buying rhubarb, look for firm, crisp stalks with glossy skin.
• Freezing provides an ideal way to assure a wintertime supply of rhubarb. Just wash and chop the stalks and seal in plastic bags. Drain off some of the liquid that forms as rhubarb thaws.
- Margie Wuebker
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