Skip to content

Let the preserving begin

May 13, 2008

One of my favorite things is to lie in bed at night and listen for the “Kerr-plink” of my canning jars sealing.  The rhubarb is starting to bolt, so it was fish or cut bait.  A quick inventory told me that I still had rhubarb in the freezer from last year and canned rhubarb sauce from last season also.  What to do?  I decided to juice it and can the results. 

Given that I hadn’t juiced rhubarb before, I decided to weigh and measure as I went just to see what kind of yield I would be able to get. 

This weighed 38#. 

This was only about 2 1/2 plants, I decided to quit at this amount, or I might be up all night canning.  What’s the point of fresh if you leave it until the next day?  It will keep better in the row, than in the refrigerator.  Plus, the quickest way to sour on canning is to make it a huge job.

To make fruit juice you can cut the fruit up and simmer with small amount of water, and then strain the juice, or you can use a steam juicer.  I love my stainless steel Mehu-Maya juicer.  This does subject your juice to more heat, but it is less work.  If you’re after a totally raw juice, the steam method is not what you want.  But, I have to make trade-offs, my husband drinks a lot of juice, so it may as well come from here.  If I can it, the shelf life is almost indefinite and I am using no more energy to store it long term.

I drain off the juice into 1/2 gallon canning jars, and at this time I add sugar so it will dissolve while the juice is hot.  I ended up with about a 1/2 gallon per 5# of fruit.  In all the yield was 16 quarts. (not counting what I spilled on the floor, or the cup that I poured down my leg when I burnt my hand on the steam:O)  Add sugar to taste, I used 1/4 cup per quart.  If I’m too tired to continue the canning process, I can store these jars of juice in the refrigerator until the next day. 

8 – 1/2 gallons or 2 canners of 7 quarts + 2 quarts over.
//" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a> 

This is what is left after juicing.

Filling the jars.  (yes, the dog is necessary)

Have sterilized jars, rings, and lids ready and fill jars according to your canning instructions.  Make sure your sealing rings are in good condition.  Discard, or use any rusty or bent rings for dry storage or for freezing.  The best way to keep these in good shape is to remove from jars after 24 hours.  Wash and dry thoroughly before storing.   The Ball Blue Book of Preserving, Putting Food ByStocking Up, and All About Pickling are all good sources of information on canning and preserving.  To save time, energy and water, I use my pressure canner for most of my canning, even on items that can be safely canned using water bath.  Tonight, while my first batch of 7 quarts was reaching pressure, I was preparing the second batch of 7.  If I have my act together, I have a hard time keeping up with the canner.  With the water bath method, it takes so long and uses so much more water.  After filling jars, wipe the rim clean with a damp rag, and then run your finger around each rim to check for nicks.  Debris on the rim of the jar can prevent a seal, but I like to feel that the jar is clean and free of chips.  The damp rag can’t feel anything, but I can.  I’m easily distracted, so I like to make sure all my hard work ends up with sealed jars.

In the canner, ready to go. (dog hair optional)

After all that, I need a drink!  Just kidding, but here is a recipe in case you do.

Danish Rhubarb Liqueur  from How To Make Danish Liqueur by Cheryl Long

4 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced
4 cups granulated sugar
3 cups vodka

Slice rhubarb in 1/4 inch slices and combine with sugar in a large jar, glass bowl or crock.  Pour vodka over and stir well with a wooden spoon.  Cap or cover and let sit for 2 – 4 weeks.  The color will change to a rosy glow.  Stir once or twice.

Strain off liqueur using a colander over a large bowl.  Discard rhubarb.  Strain through triple cheesecloth.  pour into bottles and cap.  Let age at least 1 month, for a more mellow flavor, age for 3 – 6 months.  Makes 2 qts.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristen permalink
    May 14, 2008 5:00 am

    How many rhubarb plants do you have in your garden? I have never grown it before and I just ordered a couple and wasn’t sure how many I should get.

  2. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    May 14, 2008 5:56 am

    Kristen, I have 10 plants. This is an old variety that needs dividing more often than newer types, this planting is only 5 years old, and already I’m getting thin stalks.
    Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and can take a large amount on compost each year. If you want more than the two plants provide, you can divide it in a few years.

  3. May 14, 2008 8:48 am

    oh yumm! dawn canned rhubarb juice this year too, but until then I’d never heard of it. Sounds lovely – as does the rhubarb alcohol!

  4. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    May 14, 2008 2:13 pm

    Hayden, the juice is incredibly light and refreshing. The liqueur is excellent on vanilla ice cream, or for just a sip now and then…

  5. May 14, 2008 5:01 pm

    This is so completely cool! I am blown away. I have wanted to do this for such a long time. My Aunt Nancy (much loved, lives too far away) mentioned it once and I’ve had the idea stuck in my head ever since. J’adore rhubarb.

    Could one use moonshine?

    You totally rock!


  6. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    May 14, 2008 9:41 pm

    Lacy, I’m sure you could use moonshine! The part I left out of the liqueur recipe, is that you have to hide it, so it lasts longer!
    Thanks for the compliments!

  7. June 8, 2008 11:41 am

    Have you thought about running the left over through a strainer like the kitchen aid one? you could have additional juice from that by quite a bit. On the canning2 group at yahoo many steam juice and then run items through the strainer to extract the rest. Then you could dehydrate the last part and when soundly dry, pulverize it in a little kitchen grinder and you could add that into cakes etc.

  8. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 8, 2008 10:33 pm

    Melanee, I did run the the leftovers through my strainer, and got more juice, but I didn’t think of the dehydrating the pulp after that – thanks

  9. Monica permalink
    August 13, 2009 1:06 pm

    Nice row of rhubarb Nita.
    Down here in the south they don’t grow quite that nice. I have a small stand after three years -big enough for one pie now 😀
    Anyway..thanks for the juicer link. I think I have decided to get one. Not sure how much I will use it but I know I will use it some and I have needed a regular steamer anyway– Never thought about juicing rhubarb by the way.
    Of course originally (years and years ago) I wasn’t sure I would use my pressure canner very much and now I, like you, prefer it to the BWB. Just easier. However…I need a bigger one I have decided— maybe before the steamer. I think that 14 quart monster I have been looking at will be a good investment. Added with my small 7 quart baby and I will be going to town on tomato day 🙂 Or at least to town sooner than at 7 quarts at a time hehehehe
    P.S…we’ve been having a bit of an “issue” with ai (surprised??) and have decided to buy a bull. Found a nice full Guernsey boy down in florida we are going to pick up at the first of Sept. We think we even have some people to “bull sit” him until our younger girl is ready— in exchange for you know what 😉

  10. ParisApril permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:47 pm

    Anyway you could make this with maple syrup or honey instead of adding sugar?

    • April 6, 2010 6:28 pm

      Sure, and you could can it without sweetener and add the sweetener (or not) of your choice when you open the jar.

      • raro permalink
        March 23, 2013 11:49 pm

        Ah — this gets to a pressing question I’m having trouble solving at present. Can I safely bottle (can) fruit without adding refined sugar (whether white/brown/raw etc)? I read definite answers, some yes, some no! I know I don’t have to use heavy syrups like my grandmother did, but can I use no sugar at all? I did that last season with various fruit and had no obvious problems. I’m likewise muddling along trying to figure out if I can adapt chutney and relish recipes — once I started making my own, I was horrified to find out how much sugar goes into them! I am fermenting some relishes and salsas but I don’t have a root cellar and have already run out of room in my fridge and want to make more condiments that will keep in the cupboard for months until I open them. I’d be very grateful for any advice you could offer.

        • March 24, 2013 8:02 am

          Raro, I know it’s shocking how much of sweet tooth we have isn’t it? I don’t can much fruit anymore because we just don’t eat it. Although I did open some nectarines just last night and they were divine, very light syrup and tart nectarines make a good combo. Read through this bulletin, some things are safe, and some things aren’t and when you venture into condiment territory you end up with low acid components that can cause problems.

          I hope this helps 🙂

        • raro permalink
          March 24, 2013 1:42 pm

          oh that is SO useful. Thank you so much! PS Last month I taught several groups about culturing dairy, including making butter. I send grateful thanks, because it was your post here that got me started making my own several years ago. Your experience and knowledge has arrived in New Zealand and is spreading …
          very best wishes, rachel

        • March 24, 2013 3:46 pm


  11. Don Osterhoudt permalink
    July 26, 2010 9:03 am

    Many years ago when we were younger and frankly had more energy than money we had a steam Juicer – I don’t know of what variety, but over the years as our children grew and married, our juicer became their juicer, and then it disappeared from all knowledge.

    So the other day I am at a Yard Sale and see this Alum. Juicer Mehu Maya (I think) made in Finland. The only problem so far is I need to replace the drain tube and as I recall it had a shut off option( but frankly I rather liked your solution of how to collect the juice). But herein lies the problem for me. Trying to remember how you load the steamer. This unit is a cook on your stove type or maybe father’s camp stove outside on hot days) From what I can see it has the bottom section (for water ) then another rather deep section with a cone in the middle. then a pan with a strainer and a strainer insert that fits in the pan.

    Would appreciate a link to where I can look on line at a schematic how to set up for this unit.

    Thanks ever so much

    Don O.

    • July 26, 2010 11:24 am

      Don, I would be careful using aluminum for juicing high acid foods. Mine is stainless steel. You fill the top with fruit, and it drains into the next piece as it cooks. Mine has a clothes pin tip of clip for the hose that keeps the juice contained until you are ready to fill your receptacle. Lehman’s would be a good place to look for replacement parts.

  12. carol J permalink
    March 8, 2015 10:34 am

    Rhubarb juice is wonderful to make with tapioca and so it is a pudding! The desert is made with sugar and surved with cream or ice cream. It is called rhubarbagro inDanish. My family surved this and now we freeze the juice just to make this desert in the winter.


  1. Dividing rhubarb « Throwback at Trapper Creek

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: