In Italy they have festivals celebrating asparagus. In the land of slow food and local food, its arrival in the spring means the end to root vegetables. It means soon there will be lettuce and then berries and then fruit. It means good things for the kitchen my friends. We can eat asparagus year round now, it comes from Peru, or Mexico or sometimes Argentina. If I`m lucky I can find some from California but thats as good as it gets here I`m afraid. There aren’t of winter farmers markets here so I don’t get the change to dance about asparagus but let me tell you, what I miss out on with asparagus I make up for with rhubarb.
Rhubarb is glorious. Its one of the first things to pop out of the ground in the spring time and it is the most amazing vibrant pink. It is so sour you can hardly eat it but it is wonderful mounded with sugar. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s not a root vegetable. It hasn’t been sitting in a cellar since October, it doesn’t taste like the rich fall vegetables that met their sweetness from months ripening in the sun. No, it tastes like spring. It tastes like it’s fighting it’s way into the garden eager to be the first. It tastes like new beginnings and it tastes wonderful.
Friends, you are going to get so sick of this blog if you don’t like rhubarb because man oh man am I that rhubarb is around. I wanted to bake with it, and I will, very soon, but first I wanted rhubarb jam.
I love rhubarb jam and it is painfully simple to make, so simple I almost feel bad giving a recipe to it. I didn’t have any pectin so I used half an apple. Apples are chalk full of pectin so it’s an easy way to add a little extra sweetness and get your jam to thicken up. I do to spice it up a little by add the tiniest bit of rose water to it. You want just the tiniest bit because to much will start to taste perfume-y. You just a hint of floral. I had some in my cupboard but you can find it at middle eastern stores, and if you can’t find it, then just go without. I promise, no one will complain.
Rhubarb and Rose Jam
Wash the rhubarb very carefully
Put in in a thick bottom pot with the apple on medium-low heat
Let it slowly simmer
It will start to fall apart
Keep going, it will fall apart more
Once its totally fallen apart add in the sugar.
Turn the heat down to low and stir regularly until the the apple is comlete mush and the jam becomes quite thick.
Add in the rose water. Just a couple drops, taste it, then you can add in more. The rose should be very subtle.
Pour into a jar and think of spring!