Deliciously tart and fantastically creamy, luscious rhubarb curd is a spring and summer treat not to be missed. Spread it on toast or use it for filling cakes, topping ice cream, or slathering on pancakes.
Our rhubarb has been producing a bumper crop this year. My two varieties (a regular-sized red variety and the super-gigantic green variety) provide lots of crisp juicy stalks of this mouth-puckeringly sour vegetable to use for all kinds of sweet/tart desserts, and even savoury dishes, too.
Rhubarb is an easy care plant that lasts for decades in the same spot, just wanting a top dressing of aged manure every few years to feed it. The stalks are the part we use; the leaves can be toxic so make sure to never ingest those. Hardy rhubarb thrives in our cool northern climate and is the base for many delicious desserts (see the list at the bottom of this post). It's the plant you'll see still thriving amidst the tall grasses beside long-deserted old prairie homesteads, along with a lilac bush and a peony plant. It is the first garden offering we can harvest in spring - very early spring in warmer climates, but late spring and early summer in our tougher climate.
To harvest rhubarb you simply twist and pull out the thicker stalks, then lop off and discard the leafy top and trim off the bottom.
The old-fashioned name for rhubarb is 'pie plant' as that is rhubarb's most familiar use - it makes fantastic pies. However, it has a wow factor in so many other dishes, too.
It makes a wonderful curd - that velvety smooth and silky dessert spread made with a tart fruit (usually lemons), eggs, sugar, and butter. Rhubarb stands in deliciously for the lemons in this version, adding its unique flavour and tang and providing a lovely pink hue.
If you're a lemon curd fan, you're going to love a sweet & tart rhubarb curd. Its velvety deliciousness can be eaten from a spoon or used in a myriad of dishes.
My absolute favourite way to enjoy rhubarb curd is simply slathered thickly onto a slice of buttered toast. Heaven.
How to Use Rhubarb Curd:
- eat it by itself with a dollop of whipped cream
- serve it on buttered toast
- with angel food cake, pound cake, or loaf cake
- on scones, biscuits, muffins, or crumpets
- as a filling for layer cakes
- or pavlova (or mini pavlovas)
- to top ice cream (vanilla or strawberry)
- dollop it onto pancakes, waffles, french toast, or crepes
- swirl it through plain Greek yogurt or vanilla yogurt
- layer it in a trifle
- plop it into an 'Eton Mess'
- fill tart shells, then top with whipped cream and fruit
- as the topping for a cheesecake
- layer it in parfaits or with chia pudding
- to top warm porridge
- as a filling for doughnuts, eclairs, or cream puffs
- fold it into whipped cream and serve it as a dessert mousse (maybe topped with fresh strawberries)
- or just eat it from a spoon (best pleasure value if you sneak into the fridge when no one else is looking)
Tip: If you want to treat yourself to a batch of luscious rhubarb curd come the dreary depths of winter, when you know you'll need a little cheerful reminder that spring will come again, freeze yourself the rhubarb to make it. Slice, measure, and freeze 3-cup (375gm) amounts of rhubarb in zip-top freezer bags so you can pull one out and whip up a batch when the urge strikes. Or better yet, while you're cooking your rhubarb curd, cook up an extra batch or two, purée it, and freeze the purée in small jars or zip-top freezer bags. Then all you'll need to do is defrost it and cook it up with the eggs and sugar for an even quicker fix.
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- 3 cups (375gms) red rhubarb, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ cup (100gms) sugar, plus more to taste if required, preferably organic evaporated cane sugar
- 3 large eggs
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup (57gms) butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- optional - a bit of dehydrated powdered strawberry, raspberry, hibiscus, or beet, to colour the curd if your rhubarb is more green than pink (see Notes below)
- Put the rhubarb into a small saucepan with the water. 1 tablespoon doesn't seem like much water, but you just need enough to moisten the bottom of the pot so it doesn't burn in the first minute or two until the rhubarb starts releasing its own water. Stir it often until there's enough liquid in the pot so the rhubarb can cook in its own juices. Bring it to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook it, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is soft and broken down (about 8 to 10 minutes).
- Purée the cooked rhubarb with an immersion blender or in a standard blender until smooth (I find if I purée it in my high speed blender, I don't need to strain the curd after cooking).
- Return the rhubarb purée to a clean saucepan and allow it to cool.
- Add in the sugar, eggs, and salt, and whisk well until smooth.
- Put the saucepan back onto medium to medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, just until the rhubarb curd thickens and comes to a boil. It will be slightly thickened, but will thicken more as it chills.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is melted. Allow it to cool, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn't form on top. If you prefer a smoother curd, pass it through a fine meshed sieve (in case you have small bits of egg you want to remove or your blender didn't get it smooth enough). Chill the curd for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving (unless you want it to be warm on top of pancakes or ice cream).
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Makes ~2¼ cups (550ml).
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A Few Other Rhubarb Recipes: