Rhubarb Reckoning

I went on a rampage in the past few years harvesting rhubarb from our plot and those I’d see unharvested around town. Although I used some of it, I didn’t use nearly enough to keep up. At the same time, I separated and replanted our rhubarb plants in our plot a couple years ago. Those plants were ready for harvest.

So I dove into the freezer to pull the frozen rhubarb. I think it went back to 2020, and maybe some to 2019. It was alot. I brought it down to thaw overnight, and got online to look up recipes to see what I wanted to make.

Sara and I stopped at a garage sale on Saturday on the way back from looking at a camper out the road, and bought a steam juicer. I’d never used one, so wanted to try that out with the rhubarb. What a score.

I got up about 730 am, and I decided to make some habenero rhubarb jelly with the juice, rhubarb cheesecakes, and then can rhubarb with sugar like Doug and Val fed me in Bethel in March. The juicer is fabulous. Put water in the bottom pan. Stack on the juice catcher pan, then load the top colendar pot. I loaded up the pot, put the lid on, and started on the other two dishes. I got about 20 cups of beautiful red juice from the first load. It settlled down to about half the pot, so I just added more on top, topped up the water in the bottom pan, and went shopping to get ingredients I needed.

I ended up getting 32 cups of juice. I used some for the jelly, and froze the rest in Costco yogurt containers for later use. The 6 cheesecakes came out pretty darned nice. I wrapped them in foil and put into the freezer. I canned 15 half pints of the pepper jelly, subbing jalapenos for the habaneros as the stores were out of habaneros. I was confused as to why it didn’t make the 24 jars I expected, but it tasted good going into the jars. Finally, I canned 14 pint jars of rhubarb with sugar from a simple UAF Extension Office recipe. I think I finished around 4 pm.

Of course, the kitchen was a disaster. I did a load in the dishwasher, unloaded and reloaded another. Then got to work on the canner and steamer pots and pans. A good day in the kitchen on a rainy solstice day.

In between batches and canning, I corresponded with my fish processor friends. One can’t process sport fish this summer – the first time in probably 30+ years – because they can’t find enough staff. Another had asked me if I needed a part time job to help at his place, and I told him I already had 3 jobs. The third said he might start processing but didn’t want to get overwhelmed as he only had a single cutter. Much of my fish business hinges on having these guys process my customers’ fish, so we’ll see how things shape up a few weeks from now.  The kids in the scout troop are too young to work in the processors, but ironically, many of them already have jobs this summer.  So much opportunity right now for the labor force and headaches for business owners just trying to tread water.

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