I was excited to can stewed rhubarb last weekend. I was looking forward to some day in the future, rhubarb season long gone, when I could pop the first open and relive the tart days of early spring. I still look forward to having that experience with the remaining five pints, but I actually used the first one only a few days after putting it up, as an alternative to buying more fresh rhubarb.
The irony of that aside, I made some very tasty little tarts with a combination of the rhubarb and some of last year’s dried cherries. I put a couple handfuls of the cherries and the pint of rhubarb in a small saucepan and simmered for a while to plump the cherries back up. The cherries were Bings, which are fairly sweet in themselves, so I didn’t even need to sweeten the rhubarb beyond what we’d done before canning. I then pre-baked some mini pie crusts in a not-quite-a-muffin pan I have (they would be very wide, short muffins) and plopped in the filling before finishing them off in the oven for a bit. I guess they could just as easily be called miniature pies, but the flavor of the rhubarb makes them tarts in my book.
Anyone who read my last post about miniature pies and the search for the perfect pie crust may be wondering what mixture of fat I used to make the crusts. Butter? Lard? A magic combination? I just used butter — I’m out of lard and I wasn’t sure there wouldn’t be a vegetarian in the group I was serving these to. I did manage to do an inadvertent pie crust experiment, though: when accounting for dishwashing time, is it faster to blend butter and flour by hand with a fork, or with a food processor?
The dish drying rack was pretty full, so I figured that by the time I put the dishes away and washed the food processor, I’d already be done blending by hand. I guess I could have started a timer and made two batches, but I’m pretty confident without going for that level of evidence that blending by hand was still slower. I’m sure if I did it more often, or maybe had a pastry blender instead of a fork, that it would go faster. But next time, I’ll just go for the food processor.
Otherwise, though, I’d make these again pretty much unchanged. I’m looking forward to my next rhubarb combination!