Dommy’s Rhubarb Conserve

In my great-grandparents’ day, conserve would have been served as a dessert. A conserve is like a jam but with chunks of fruit. The texture here comes from walnuts and citrus peel. Rhubarb is easy to freeze, and frozen rhubarb is readily available, making this a good winter recipe, too. Stir it into plain yogurt, spread it on scones or muffins, or serve it alongside a cheese platter.

I use an old-fashioned hand-cranked meat grinder to grind the citrus. I doubt it’s the same one my great-grandmother used, but maybe; this one came from my mother’s storeroom.

Makes 6 or 7 500mL jars

2                                              oranges

1                                              lemon

5 cups                                   fresh rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces or thawed frozen rhubarb

5 cups                                   granulated cane sugar

3/4 cup                                 walnut pieces

Peel the oranges and lemon. Scrape the white pith from the peel and from the outside of the fruits; discard the pith. Cut the oranges and lemon in half. Remove and discard the seeds. Put the fruit through a food grinder or coarsely chop it.

In a medium pot, stir together the orange and lemon mixture, rhubarb, sugar and walnuts. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently to prevent the rhubarb from settling and scorching. Ladle into sterilized half-pint (250mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace, place the lids on, and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Check the seals. Refrigerate any jars that fail to seal and use these within 2 weeks. (Alternately, freeze the conserve in freezer-safe containers, leaving some headspace for expansion.)

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