Rhubarb feels like such a warm weather delicacy. While it’s incredibly easy to grow in your garden, this perennial tends not to keep well once picked – which is why you rarely see it in big box grocery stores. If you have a rhubarb plant (or can find it at your local farmer’s market) and want to enjoy your crop beyond the summer months, you need to find a good way to store it.Jump to Recipe
My favorite short-term* method of putting up rhubarb is this rhubarb sauce. It is slightly tangy, but the plant’s sour notes are balanced by a rich sweetness from the added orange juice and sugar. The sauce has a more complex flavor than you might have imagined, making it an amazing topping for ice cream, angel food cake, or strawberry shortcake. It has relatively few ingredients, which in this case means it checks all of the boxes to share with your gluten-free, but-free, vegetarian, or vegan friends. It will stay fresh for a few weeks in the fridge if you store it in an airtight container – if your family doesn’t eat all of it first.
*My favorite long-term method of storing rhubarb is to dice the stalks and then freeze them in quart-size zip top bags. Once it’s frozen, you can make rhubarb sauce (or tarts, or pies) whenever your heart desires.
As you might have expected, this recipe calls for diced rhubarb stems. I used rhubarb from our garden, but you could also use the frozen variety and get the same delicious final result. (If you’re never prepared rhubarb before, make sure you cut off and discard the leaves, as they contain toxic levels of oxalic acid; the stems are where the real treasure lies.) For this sauce you will also need orange juice, vanilla bean paste, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water.
Start by placing your diced rhubarb in a saucepan with the orange juice, vanilla bean paste, sugar, and salt. Turn heat to medium and allow the sugar to dissolve.
Bring your rhubarb mixture to a boil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the rhubarb has broken down. Strain your rhubarb mixture through a fine mesh sieve and return the strained mixture to your saucepan.
In a separate bowl, combine equal parts cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Pour this into your rhubarb mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, until the rhubarb sauce has thickened.
Transfer your thickened sauce to a heat-proof bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. (I like to transfer mine to a heat-proof measuring cup so that it’s easier to transfer to smaller containers, for sharing with neighbors and friends.) Pour the warm sauce over angel food cake or the cooled sauce over ice cream, and you have yourself a simple weeknight dessert.
Wasn’t that easy? I’ve made this dessert multiple times already this summer, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as we have!
Did you make this rhubarb sauce for a special occasion? Do you have any good stories about the rhubarb plant that supplied your main ingredient? I’d love to hear about them! Please tag your photos of this dish with @WhiskAverseBaking on social media, or leave a message in the comments below.
- Mesh sieve
- 4 cups rhubarb diced
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Combine rhubarb, orange juice, vanilla bean paste, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the rhubarb has broken down.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and return to your saucepan.
- In a separate bowl, combine equal parts cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add this to your rhubarb mixture and return to a simmer for 5 minutes, allowing it to thicken.
- Transfer thickened sauce to a heatproof bowl and store in the refrigerator.
- Serve cooled sauce over ice cream or angel food cake.