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A couple of years ago, I decided I really wanted to use what was available to us here on our homestead, instead of always thinking about what we didn’t have that I would like. It’s been quite the lesson.
In the spring, we have about 2 weeks of asparagus, and then hops, dandelions, and rhubarb before we can even plant our gardens. I knew these were choice menu items I was going to have to consciously work toward using more of unless I wanted to live off our existing pantry/cellar menu for another couple months.
The thing is, we don’t eat much refined sugar at our house. I didn’t know how to prepare rhubarb without sugar–a lot of sugar. So I got to work. Here is one of our favorite recipes that we came up with (that doesn’t use any sugar).
You will need:
- 5 Cups cleaned and diced rhubarb
- 1 Cup water
- 6 Cups apple juice (we make our own in the fall)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
If you are going to bottle this, get your jars started. I use the 12 ounce jelly jars. If you have a dishwasher with a “sterile” cycle, this works well. I wash mine in the hottest water I can stand, and then leave them (and the lids and rings) in the water until the juice is ready.
Also, have your water bath prepared per your owner’s manual. For mine, I have it filled a bit over half-way with hot water, in place over my heat source (not yet turned on), with the lid on. It holds heat pretty efficiently.
Sometimes we make big batches, but this is the consistent ratio we use.
I start by cleaning and dicing the rhubarb up until I have about 5 cups (I don’t heap the measurements). I put this in my Vitamix along with a cup of water and let it go for 30 seconds or so. I want the rhubarb pretty small, but not pureed. I then put it in a big stock pot on medium heat until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn to the bottom.
I let it bubble for a couple of minutes and then add my apple juice, and stir quite a bit until the entire mixture is bubbly again. Add lemon juice and cinnamon, and then stir constantly for 5-8 minutes until the cinnamon is completely mixed in. It always seems like it takes forever for that cinnamon to mix in.
If you are bottling, pull your bottles out of your hot water and rinse well with hot water, and line them up by your pot. At this point, I turn my heat source on to low.
Using a funnel, ladle in your juice. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims with clean cloth, place lids, and then rings. Rings should be snug but not tight. Using your tool, place each jar carefully in your water bath canner. Per your user-manual instructions, make sure you have enough water, and begin to boil water.
Process for 10 minutes plus your adjustment for altitude.
Altitude Increase Processing Time
1001-3000 ft 5 minutes
3001-6000 10 minutes
6001-8000 15 minutes
8001-10000 20 minutes
For almost 6000 feet, we process ours for 20 minutes total.
After safely removing your bottles with the proper tool, carefully use a towel in each hand to again make sure your rings are snug. Allow to cool overnight in an upright position.
In the morning, remove rings, clean if necessary. Gently check to make sure lids are sealed. If not sealed, place the jar in your refrigerator, and drink the juice within the next few days.
Regardless of whether we bottle the juice or just drink it, I always make sure to store it in a jar with a lid as you’ll want to shake it before drinking.
I love to bottle it in the 12 oz jars (for jellies and jams), because they are just the perfect little fancy drink to give to a guest and can be drank right from the bottle.
If you want, you can use this as the base for your green smoothies as well.
After a long winter of apple juice, it is refreshing to spice up our drinks and this one definitely gets our guests talking.
Disclaimer: this is a family recipe that has not been tested nor approved by the FDA. You alone are responsible for your family's health. I am not a canning expert. Please make sure to do your own research, and carefully read and follow your own instructions manual before preserving any recipes by water bath.
I follow the manufacture’s recommendations outlined in my owner’s manual that came with my water bath canners, and the guidelines given in the Ball Blue Book Preservation Guide.