Rhubarb Curd is like a jar of rhubarb and custard. Easy to make with freshly stewed rhubarb, it is rich, buttery and creamy. Perfect on toast, with ice cream or with shortbread biscuits.
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Rhubarb Curd… like Rhubarb and Custard in a Jar
Rhubarb Curd is perhaps not the most obvious of preserves. If you have never tried it before however, you are in for a treat. Rich and creamy, tart yet sweet, this is the curd of childhood memories… even without experiencing a mouthful. Why? Because it is like eating a jar full of rhubarb and custard. Whether your memory is of boiled pink and yellow sweets, or bowls of stewed fruit with lashings of steaming sweet custard, the brain remembers.
Rhubarb Season : A Gift from the Garden
In the UK, the rhubarb season usually starts around early April, with the best stalks available until the end of June (although a good plant may continue to produce right through the summer). It’s a relatively undemanding plant to have in the garden, as long as you like rhubarb. And it’s a plant that keeps on giving.
Give rhubarb a good soil rich with nutrients and plenty of water and it will reward you year after year. Regular as clockwork, its large green leaves work their way up, creating its summer gift… Pink and green stalks of fruity tartness, with a deliciously sharp tang which is always perfect in tarts and crumbles.
If you can’t, don’t or won’t grow it, fear not. Rhubarb is freely available in supermarkets and greengrocers from springtime onwards.
is Rhubarb Fruit or Vegetable? Well… That Depends on where you Live
Ask most people whether rhubarb is a fruit and the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’. Its sharp fruitiness which when cooked up with a little sugar lends itself perfectly to dessert is a dead giveaway… Right?
Rhubarb, which is related to knotweed, sorrel and buckwheat, is in fact (scientifically) a perennial vegetable. You can (and should) of course only eat the pink-hued stems. The leaves contain toxic oxalic acid which is harmful and should be banished immediately to the compost heap.
If you live state-side, you may rightly challenge the vegetable status. As is the want of the American legal system, in 1947 a challenge to the botany of this humble pink stick was raised in a New York court. “Surely is must be a fruit” they cried… “This is how we eat it!” The court agreed and rhubarb was thus declared. A legal fruit it is… But only in the US.
Is Rhubarb Curd Easy to Make?
Yes! Rhubarb Curd is pretty easy to make. Whilst it requires a modicum of skill (and some basic equipment), it is much the same process as its Citrus Curd relatives. The biggest difference is the need to extract a puree from the rhubarb to use in the curd in place of juice.
Done by simply stewing and sieving the rhubarb ahead of time, it is a process which works for other curds too. I’ve also made winter Apple and Blackberry Curd using s similar process.
Although there are a number of Rhubarb Curd recipes now scattered across the internet, they vary enormously in the amount of sugar, butter and eggs that they use. Having experimented to find a good balance, this recipe appears to deliver consistently with each and every batch.
Beyond making puree, the biggest skill you require to make Rhubarb Curd is patience… Lots of it! Good curd takes time and a willingness to stand and stir. It can get a little boring, but is so worth the aching muscles.
To Pink or not to Pink?
When I first developed this Rhubarb Curd recipe, I made two batches and varied them slightly each time. The first was a pure rhubarb curd with no additions. And yes, it was absolutely delicious… but it was not pink. And that made me sad…
Expecting a curd with a natural crimson tinge, it turned out more of a mustard yellow. To be fair, this was in part because of the deep yellowness of the free range egg yolks used. Of course, the flavour far outweighed the appearance and I happily ate it with enthusiasm… mostly out of the jar.
But how to colour it? Pink food colouring was a possibility. And one recipe I found suggested a dash of Grenadine. However, I wanted to try something with less sugar and that was more natural, so I added some ground freeze-dried raspberries for my second batch. They had the desired colour effect for sure, producing a powder-pink curd. But they did also affect the flavour slightly, resulting in something hinting of rhubarb-raspberry curd. It was still delicious, but perhaps a little sharper. The lesson? If you want to bring out the pure rhubarb flavour, then skip any pink expectation and go for a purist approach.
Do I Need any Special Equipment to make Rhubarb Curd?
No special equipment needed here to be honest. But it does help to have a good, sturdy heavy-bottomed saucepan (to balance your large Pyrex bowl); a decent sieve; a good heat proof, solid wooden or silicone spoon; and a couple of old, well-sealed sterilised jam jars or Kilner jars.
How to Eat Rhubarb Curd
In considering how to eat rhubarb curd, I could just stop with ‘large spoon and open mouth’. It’s that good. But just in case you are not as unsophisticated as me…
Rhubarb Curd is luscious spread on toast, or lightly buttered bread. My recipes for Gluten Free Wholemeal Bread and also Gluten Free Vegan Wholemeal are a lovely pairing. The earthiness of the bread works deliciously with the tart sweetness of the rhubarb. Alternatively, if you prefer your bread a little lighter in colour, or are stuck for the required wholegrain flours, you could bake up a lovely loaf with my Easy Gluten Free (store cupboard) Bread Recipe.
Best of all? My favourite (and possibly the most heavenly) way to eat it, is slathered onto some home-baked gluten free Almond Shortbread, topped with a berry or two. The combination of sweet nutty almond biscuits with a rhubarb and custard topping is to die for.
What else can I make with Rhubarb?
The rhubarb season is worth making the most of. But there is so much more you can get out of these beautiful pink stems. If you need some inspiration, Gluten Free Alchemist is a great place to start… Here’s how we use rhubarb at GFHQ :
Rhubarb in Baking
- Perfect Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble Slices
- Summery Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
- Sumptuous Rhubarb & White Chocolate Eclairs
- Individual Rhubarb & Custard Layer Cakes with Pistachio Sponge
- A heavenly dessert : Rhubarb-Strawberry Meringue Pie
Jams & Sauces
- Rhubarb, Strawberry & Cointreau Jam
- Strawberry, Rhubarb & Pomegranate Jam
- Rhubarb-Strawberry Sauce (for ice cream and pancakes)
Do You Love Rhubarb Too? What else do you make with it?
Always on the look out for more seasonal Rhubarb yumciousness, I’m hoping for your help. If you love rhubarb too, I’d love your ideas. What do you make with it and what else should I make with it?
Leave a comment below or contact me direct. And of course, if you do make my Rhubarb Curd, don’t forget to let me know!
- jam jars
- Baking tray
- large saucepan
- wooden/silicone spoon
- food processor/blender (optional)
- jug or bowl
- large pyrex bowl
- 400 g fresh rhubarb washed, trimmed & cut into short lengths
- 110 g caster sugar divided into two separate tablespoons
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) cold water
- 80 g unsalted butter cubed
- 3 large eggs (UK Large) beaten (you may wish to strain out any stringy bits before you use)
- 1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry powder optional (for natural colour)
- Wash the jam jars and lids in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Do not dry.
- Wash any silicone seals (from Kilner jars) separately with hot soapy water and set aside.
- Place the clean jars and their lids (but not the silicone seals from Kilner jars) into a cold oven on a baking tray and turn the oven on to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3. Allow to heat whilst you make your puree. Once the oven has reached temperature, the jars should be allowed to heat for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once the jars have sterilised, turn off the oven, but leave the jars to cool in the oven, until ready to use.
- Place the cut rhubarb into a saucepan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and using a medium heat setting, bring to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has cooked through and turned to mush. (If you are adding raspberry, add it at this point and thoroughly mix in, allowing to simmer for a further minute or so).
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Once cool, use a mesh sieve and force the rhubarb pulp through (using a wooden or silicone spoon) into a jug or bowl. This will take some perseverance as you want to get as much through as possible (it may help if you puree in a food processor before sieving). The more pulp obtained, the more 'rhubarby' the curd. You should have a thick puree when you have finished and some remaining fibrous rhubarb 'goo' (which you can either discard or save to add to a compote).
Cooking the Rhubarb Curd
- Make a double saucepan by taking a large sturdy saucepan, on top of which you can place a large pyrex bowl so that it sits securely at the top of the pan. Place a few centimetres of water into the bottom of the saucepan and check that the bowl sits above this, without its base touching the water.
- Place the butter, remaining tablespoon of sugar, eggs and rhubarb puree into the bowl placed over the saucepan on a hob and begin to heat the pan. Bring the water to a simmer, whilst continually stirring the ingredients.
- Now turn the heat down to a low simmer and continue to stir, so that the steam under the ingredients is effectively cooking them very slowly. STIR CONTINUALLY. Do NOT turn up the heat and be really patient with the cooking process or you will scramble the egg.
- Keep stirring until the butter melts and the mixture thickens into a custard consistency which coats the back of the spoon and holds its thickness. This may take 15+ minutes.
- Once cooked, pour the curd into your sterile, warm jars and seal with lids immediately. Set aside to cool.
- Once cold, store in the fridge.
Rhubarb Curd shared with :
- Whats’ for Dinner #250 with The Lazy Gastronome
- Over The Moon #222 with Marilyn’s Treats and Eclectic Red Barn
- Cook Blog Share with Tin and Thyme
- Fiesta Friday #325 with Angie and Frugal Hausfrau