There's a reason strawberry and rhubarb are so commonly paired together. For starters, they both come into season at the same time, making them the classic taste of spring and early summer. Rhubarb's zingy tang is the perfect complement to the fragrant sweetness of plump, ripe strawberries.
Rhubarb is most commonly treated like a sour "fruit" and sweetened in dishes like this compote as well as pies, but it is, in fact, the leafstalks of a vegetable. The green parts of the leaves are toxic, which is why you never see rhubarb stalks for sale with the leaves attached. When ripe, the stalks blush pink, though they are edible when green as well, with the same flavor.
The compote is sort of like a lazy jam. Just cook the rhubarb and strawberries with some sugar just until they break down, making a soft, spoonable spread. It's fabulous over ice cream, pound cake, or even with some fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
This recipe can be easily doubled.
- 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb leaf stalks
- 2 cups strawberries (washed and hulled)
- 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups sugar (see note in instructions)
Wash and hull the strawberries, then slice them in half, or in quarters if they are large.
Chop the rhubarb stalks. In the end, you're looking for 2 cups each of chopped strawberries and rhubarb.
In a medium pot, combine the strawberries and rhubarb over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar. Stir constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb pieces start to fall apart. When the compote is about as thick as applesauce, turn off the heat.
Taste, and add additional sugar if you desire more sweetness. Keep a light hand with the sugar, though; too much sweetness will bludgeon rhubarb's distinctive flavor. If you do add additional sugar, turn the heat back on to low and stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Fill clean canning jars with the strawberry-rhubarb compote, leaving half an inch of headspace. It is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe.
Tap the bottom of each jar gently but firmly on the palm of your hand to settle the compote and release any air bubbles, or run a clean spatula or chopstick around the interior periphery of the jar to release any trapped air.
- Use honey instead of sugar. Choose a mild, lightly colored honey such as orange blossom or clover. Use 1/3 less honey than the sugar called for in the recipe.
- Add fresh or crystallized ginger. Ginger pairs wonderfully with rhubarb. Add 1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized (candied) ginger to the recipe.
- Turn the compote into strawberry rhubarb sorbet. Chill the compote in the refrigerator overnight (8 - 12 hours), or as long as 24 hours. Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.