I've always been one to love history, ancestry and anything old and worn. I have a love for antiques, old houses and relics from the past. For me, things that are dated conjure up countless possibilities for a good story. If only they could tell the tale! The rhubarb I just harvested from our garden has it's own little history and I am so happy to be a part of it. Our rhubarb plant came from a cutting from Eric's sweet grandmother Norma's plant. Harvesting from it this year felt like connecting with her over the rainbow bridge.
Harvesting rhubarb can feel a bit scary at first... only the stems are edible. Some gardeners advise wearing gloves as you work through the pile of leaves and stems for fear of making contact with the massive foliage. I didn't do this, but I made sure to wash my hands as soon as I finished and I carefully discarded the leaves into the trash to ensure our free range chickens didn't have the chance to "sample" them.
When I began tackling this first harvest, I didn't realize just how MUCH rhubarb was actually there. Last year was the first full year for the rhubarb in the garden, so I didn't harvest any of it and allowed it to flower and to go to seed. I read that this would make the plant stronger and it surely felt strong as I clipped and clipped the stalks.
Once I had the rhubarb inside, I had to decide what to do with it. I had some strawberries in the fridge, so I made a double batch of strawberry rhubarb oatmeal bars. Yummy! The recipe can be found on my Pinterest board under the category called "Summer Bounty." The rest of the harvest was washed, cut, frozen and divided for use later during the year.
After the individual pieces had time to freeze, I measured out two cup portions and put them into freezer bags. Most recipes I use call for at least two cups, so this makes life a bit easier when I am tackling a recipe. Freezing it also keeps the individual pieces from sticking together in the event that you need to adjust the portion size being used. I asked our daughter to help mark the bag for me in hopes of making a tiny memory. It is my hope that both of our children remember the work that comes with harvest and preservation. The taste that comes from what we have a hand in is powerful. Perhaps the next time she helps with a rhubarb based treat she will not only savor the flavor that goes with it, but will recount the hours of work it takes to preserve nature's bounty for later in the year.
The freezer has 10 cups of delicious rhubarb thanks to the plant that originated in Grandma Norma's garden. Each time our family dives into a dish that calls for it, we can pause and give thanks to her memory and the taste of early summer that goes with it.