Growing up, each summer, my mom made big batches of rhubarb sauce. She kept some in the freezer, and we enjoyed it all summer long. My sister and I would eat it for breakfast, and sometimes, it was a side for dinner. Back then, we ate it like we did applesauce—on its own.
When I decided to make rhubarb sauce for the first time, I talked to both my mom and my grandma. Equipped with no specific recipe, both just advised me to cook the stalks down with a bunch of sugar, some water, and a little strawberry gelatin mix for color.
Well, being the natural-food obsessor that I am (I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I cannot stop thinking about where my food comes from—yes, I realize how obnoxious I’ve become), I wanted to recreate my mom’s lovely pink rhubarb sauce without the gelatin. Having just seen beautiful pints of strawberries at the farmers’ market, I thought that the addition of strawberries would enhance both the color and the flavor of the sauce.
Well, the sauce was a success. Both the consistency and the flavor matched the sauce I grew up with. This time around, however, I realized the potential of the sauce. While I did eat most of it straight out of the jar, I also spooned it over vanilla ice cream and spread some on toast, and I know it would be great over pound cake with whipped cream. Oh, the possibilities . . .
Adapted from Mother Breakwell, Grandma DeWall, and the Food Network
- 2 pounds rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add rhubarb to saucepan. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Add strawberries and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Use a potato masher to break up the fruit in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce reaches desired consistency (about 5 minutes more).
- Allow sauce to cool and transfer to sterilized containers.
- Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.