Rhubarb is on the return – at least for this harvesting season!
I harvested a large stash of rhubarb the other day – and I did not even touch my second garden patch of rhubarb. There is still much more to come.
And as with every year, I pick my rhubarb and then ask myself,
What am I going to do with all of this rhubarb?
Even though I ask myself that question every year, every year my first answer is the same – I will make some rhubarb sauce. It is quick and easy to make and will easily consume a whole lot of rhubarb in one go.
I remember as a kid when my mother would make rhubarb sauce. I would lather that stuff on some toast and butter…yummy. I would also take a stick of rhubarb and dip it into a bowl of white sugar as a snack. Without the sugar…not so much.
Back in those days, we weren’t so concerned with sugar consumption – mostly, I guess, because we really did not consume that much sugar on a daily basis – unlike today. Making rhubarb sauce back then would always include sugar.
Today, me and my family are trying to cut down on refined sugars. And now that I ‘have to’ make some rhubarb sauce – due to my annual robust rhubarb harvest – I wanted to think of a way to use another type of sweetener – and make a sugar-free rhubarb sauce.
Even me, a person who does not really have a sweet tooth, cannot handle eating rhubarb sauce without a sweetener. There are a few fruits where sweetening is mandatory – rhubarb and cranberries as a couple of examples.
You can see by the recipe title that there are some strawberries in this sauce. The strawberries, however, are not the sweetener. While obviously sweeter than rhubarb, they are still not sweet enough to counter the tartness of rhubarb. They are, however, an important ingredient in this sauce for a couple of reasons.
While we tend to think of rhubarb stalks as quite red in color, there are actually a lot of green stalks as well as green and red blend rhubarb stalks. As such, when they are boiled down, the color becomes a little less – or should I say a lot less – appealing. Adding strawberries to this sauce helps to add a little more red color – naturally, of course.
My mother used to add strawberry jello powder for both the addition of the red color and for the setting properties of the gelatin. I am not a fan of what is in jello powder – lots of refined sugar. I will suffer through the less-red color and saucier texture by using just strawberries.
As I mentioned, I wanted to use or find a different sweetener for this rhubarb sauce. When it comes to natural or unrefined sweeteners, there aren’t that many available…so, my choices were limited by virtue of availability. (It makes it easier to decide when I don’t have a lot of options – well, sometimes :-).
In my pantry and / or fridge…my options were honey or maple syrup – and I mean, real maple syrup – not that sugary maple flavored stuff that kids tend to love.
So, maple syrup it was! I could have used either honey or maple syrup but, I had a lot of maple syrup so…that was an easy decision. I have to admit I also thought the flavors of rhubarb and maple syrup would blend nicely….and they do!
And now for the complete and super easy recipe.
Sugarless and Sweet Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Enjoy the healthy benefits of super-easy-to-make rhubarb in this delicious sauce - without the addition of any refined sugars.
- 12 cups rhubarb - chopped
- 2 cups strawberries - chopped - frozen is ok
- 6 tbsp real maple syrup - adjust as necessary - you may want more depending on your desired level of sweetness
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup water
Add all ingredients to a large pot.
Simmer on med-low for about 15 minutes or until the rhubarb has softened.
Enjoy alone, on toast, or on some ice-cream
If you and your family differ in your sweetness or lack thereof tolerances, leave the rhubarb sauce as is and for those who like more sweetness, simply add a teaspoon or so more maple syrup when you eat it!