Almost certainly the most simple – and one of the most delicious – ways to enjoy rhubarb, stewed rhubarb is a treat and makes for the most wonderful springtime breakfast. Serve with a bowl of yogurt for a seasonal treat while rhubarb is in season.
Infinitely better than my childhood treat of raw rhubarb dipped in sugar, stewing rhubarb is almost as easy to make and rather more satisfying. This version is made with honey instead of sugar and, while it needs just three ingredients, there are a handful of extras you can add if you’d like. It is lightly sweetened but you can adjust the amounts if you prefer something sweeter.
If you have plenty of rhubarb on hand (lucky you) try a rhubarb almond cake, German classic rhubarb streusel cake, or gluten-free strawberry rhubarb crisp.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Rhubarb: we can’t get forced rhubarb in Sweden so I’ve used open-grown rhubarb from our farm share here. Forced will have a more vibrantly pink result and you can certainly skip the beet in that case.
- Lemon: use orange for a sweeter result, or try grapefruit for a bit of a twist (use just half a grapefruit).
- Honey: sugar can be substituted for honey if preferred. I imagine maple syrup could also be used but I haven’t tried this.
- Add-ins: try adding a teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger or stem ginger or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract to the syrup ingredients before adding the rhubarb.
Step by Step
Step 1: add the honey, lemon zest and juice, water, and beet (if using) to a pot.
Step 2: heat over low until the honey has melted, and stir to combine.
Step 3: add the rhubarb to the pot in as even a layer as possible.
Step 4: bring to a low boil, then simmer for about five minutes, until the rhubarb has softened.
You’ll have the best results with pieces of rhubarb that are about the same thickness. Pictured is the first harvest of the season so they vary quite a lot in size, and as a result, some of the pieces fell apart while others stayed whole. This is fine but if you want picture-perfect stewed rhubarb choose stalks that are uniformly about 3cm (1 in.) wide.
For a stronger pink colour if using the beet trick, let it cool with the beet in the syrup. This will steep the pink into the rhubarb – you can see the colour difference in step four above versus the final picture with the yogurt. This is strictly aesthetic and doesn’t alter the taste in any way.
While this uses the same ingredients as rhubarb compote, the amounts and method are different. If you’re looking for a sauce rather than whole pieces of rhubarb, I suggest following that recipe instead.
How to Store
Storage: keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Freezing: the texture will deteriorate when thawed, but stewed rhubarb can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months if you’d like.
- Make a syrup: the thin syrup that’s left after cooking the rhubarb is delicious as is, but if you’d like to use it for pancakes, for example, it can be cooked down. Simmer with the lid off for 10-15 minutes until reduced as much as you’d like, then store in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Add the beet: this is completely optional but a very good trick. You need just a small chunk of peeled red beetroot to add a lovely pink colour and it doesn’t overwhelm the subtle rhubarb flavour like strawberries do.
- Adjust the cooking time: if your rhubarb is very thin, you may only need to simmer for 2-3 minutes, and if the pieces are rather large, a few minutes longer.
More Quick Spring Recipes
Quick Garlic Spinach Pasta
Wild Garlic Pesto
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Stewed Rhubarb with Honey
- 50 grams honey to taste
- 3 tablespoons water
- Zest 1 lemon unwaxed, organic if possible
- Juice 1 lemon ~3 tablespoons
- 1 piece red beetroot, peeled optional
- 500 grams rhubarb cut into ~4cm (1.5 in.) pieces
- Add the honey, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and beet (if using) to a pot. Heat over low heat until the honey has melted, then stir to combine.50 grams honey, 3 tablespoons water, Zest 1 lemon, Juice 1 lemon, 1 piece red beetroot, peeled
- Add the rhubarb, in an even layer if possible. Increase the heat to bring to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for five minutes, or until the rhubarb is just tender but still whole.500 grams rhubarb
- For a stronger pink colour, cool the stewed rhubarb with the beet in the syrup. Serve warm or cold.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
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