Monday, 22 September 2014
We've been bottling rhubarb recently (and still have lots more to do). Start by chopping the rhubarb into 4cm long pieces and put them in a bowl. Make a syrup by bringing to the boil 500g of sugar in one litre of water. Leave to boil for about two minutes then pour hot over the rhubarb. Leave to stand overnight.
Strain off the syrup and put it into the preserving pan. Whilst waiting for the syrup to boil, pack the rhubarb into storage jars. Pour the boiling syrup over the rhubarb in the jars. Bring the level of the liquid to just short of the top of the jar. Close the lid. Put a tea towel in the bottom of a pan and put the jars on the towel (this theoretically stops the jars from shattering on the bot pan bottom - but see below). Fill the pan with water so that the jars are covered. Make sure the jars are not touching each other. Gradually heat the pan to 90C and keep it at that temperature for about 3 minutes. Then remove from heat.
This is an alternative to freezing and comes with a useful by-product: the syrup can later be used in desserts etc.
My bottling experience was not without its incidents. Despite having a tea towel in the bottom of the pan, one of my jars broke. It was a clean break around the base of the jar and I suspect it was a weakness with the jar rather than an error in how we used the equipment. Nevertheless, when I picked the jar up, it deposited its contents in the pan!