I’m always so amazed how quickly rhubarb is ready to harvest in the spring. One day the little nubbins are pushing up through the cold earth, and the next day they have exploded into these brilliant, robust stalks radiating vitality. Rhubarb is the first fresh produce of the season to make it into my kitchen and my Mehu-Liisa steam juicer. Below are general guidelines for juicing rhubarb:
First I get my canning equipment ready: clean, sanitized bottles, lids and bands, jars and pan for drawing off juice. Next I boil my lids and rubber seals for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I take them off the heat and leave them in the hot water till needed. Meanwhile, I bring the water to boil in the water pan with the lid. All that’s needed is a steady boil, so I use a medium-high heat. Here’s a short clip showing a nice steady boil:
Next, I clean and trim the rhubarb, chop it into large chunks and fill the steamer basket in the Mehu-Liisa. When the water has come to a boil, I place the basket in the juicer, cover and set my timer for 30 minutes. (Bill O’Murray is keeping an eye on things there.) That way, I avoid boiling the water pan dry. After 30 minutes, I check the water level in the pan, and if I am processing very juicy fruit like grapes or blueberries, I check the juice level to see if I need to draw off a quart to keep it from dribbling down the steam funnel into the water pan. This is not a common occurrence, but keeping an eye on your steamer during processing is definitely a best practice.
As you can see, after 30 minutes, the fruit has reduced considerably and the juice is filling the kettle below. I process for 15 minutes more and then draw off the juice.
The stool I am using is a nice convenience but certainly not necessary. Using a half-gallon measuring cup with a handle like the one shown in the video makes filling the jars very easy. Any little splashes of juice end up in the measuring cup and not on the floor.
From 8 lbs of rhubarb I got 2 quarts of rich, concentrated juice. At this point, the juice can be steam canned or water bathed for storage according to USDA guidelines or used in your favorite recipes. I didn’t add any sugar because most of the recipes I use for the rhubarb juice call for sugar later. The juice will get translucent and a bit cloudy as it cools and the pectin solidifies. I look forward to making jelly and syrup in the days to come. I will be posting a short video on juicing rhubarb as well for those who prefer moving image instructions.
I hope you get a chance to pull some rhubarb soon and to enjoy the first processing batch of the season with your Mehu-Liisa steam juicer from Finland. As always, let me know if you have any questions or would like to share some of your own tips, techniques, and recipes.