I bought some rhubarb on the weekend and decided to try this simple method for preserving it. The Canned Rhubarb recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) was contributed by Mrs. James Hood. I should warn you that this recipe doesn’t meet today’s home safe canning standards but I still wanted to see how it turns out and then perhaps it could be done according to modern methods. However, I didn’t want to waste good rhubarb so I’m making one jar of canned rhubarb.
I washed the rhubarb and cut it into 1 inch pieces. I measured and had 2 cups. That means I need 1 cup of light brown sugar. I put some rhubarb in a jar and then added some sugar and then rhubarb and more sugar. Once the jar was full I put on the ring and lid and popped it in a large pot. I filled the pot with cold water until the jar was covered up to the neck (where the metal sealing ring meets the jar). I covered the pot and turned the heat up high and left the jar to boil for two hours. I removed it and noticed that the jar was still fairly full but the liquid only covered half the rhubarb. I opened the lid of the jar and prepared a serving for myself and then covered it again. I left the jar to cool so that I could see how it would look later.
Mrs. James Hood is Margaret Ramsey. She was born about 1851 in Galt to Margaret and Andrew. When Margaret was about 21 she married James McCrea Hood in May 1872 and they had three children. I haven’t been able to find out much about her although her husband was a merchant and even the town clerk for Galt. Her husband died in 1925 but I haven’t found her death notice.
The rhubarb is still intact but soft. This is a remarkable aspect to this method and perhaps why it might be followed. It is also simple (if unsafe method today) other than the hassle of opening all the jars and re-proportioning the contents. The colour of the rhubarb remains intensely red, another asset and the flavour is that wonderful combination of tart and sweet. It isn’t cloyingly sweet and that tart rhubarb flavour comes through but there is enough sweetness to make it easy to eat. I like the use of brown sugar instead of white. I imagine Mrs. James Hood serving this with some whipped cream as a simple dessert. It could also accompany some slightly stale (or fresh) plain cake.
Mrs. James Hood
Cut the rhubarb into pieces about one inch long, wash and drain;take two measures of rhubarb to one of light brown sugar, place fruit and sugar in alternate layers in self-sealers, filling the jars as full as possible screw on the cover tight set in a boiler of cold water up to the neck, put it on the stove and boil steadily two or three hours till the rhubarb is cooked; by this time the fruit will have gone down about one-third; remove from the boiler and take the contents of two or three jars to fill up the others. Replace the covers at once and screw tight.