Early summer in Ontario is the time of the season when rhubarb is in abundance. And there are so many ways to enjoy it! We will eat rhubarb in as many ways as we can when it’s available but it can be sad to watch the season come to an end. Knowing that you must wait another year to get that delicious tart, sweetness again. So like with all our short lived garden friends, preserving is the way to go! Jams are one of the easiest and yummiest ways I know to make your rhubarb harvest last longer. And we’ve perked this one up a notch with the perfect addition, Cider!
As many of you know we have made our own cider here at the homestead. If you’re into brewing or just want a fun end of summer activity cider brewing is worth checking out. But even though we love our home made batches, they are more what I would call “Table Cider”. We have lots of them, they are simple and they pair with most things. Lovely to have around, but sometimes, we crave a little more classiness in our cider. Enter, Farmgate Cider.
Farmgate Cider: Rooted In Place
Farmgate Cider is a small family run cidery located just west of Ottawa. We ran into them a few years ago at a local farmers market (where they gave out samples!) and were immediately in love. As family run companies go they have fully embraced their fans and clients as family. They offer a pretty awesome selection, and will actually deliver right to your door, as well as being available at markets. If you are in their members program you can get a selection of ciders delivered monthly! So cool!
Mike is much more of a cider fan than any other alcohols, but wasn’t ever super thrilled with his options. I was determined to find some craft brands that were local. That focused on quality and had more depth, and character. Farmgate ticks all the boxes.
They brew in a very traditional way, all in small batches, with apples that they grow themselves or source from other local growers. Ciders that they make from apples grown on their own orchard are know as their Estate Ciders. These include the Funkhaus, Wild Apple, Appleby Close, Sugar Shack, and Wild & Sweet brews. Our first experience with Farmgate was in sampling the Wild Apple cider. We were (not too sound like a crazy person) blown away. It’s made from apples from one of the few wild apple trees on their property, which gives it this perfect light taste of summer. It isn’t overly dry feeling, and has a smell like you wouldn’t believe.
The demand for their cider has grown, and so they also work with other local orchards to produce their line of Craft Ciders. These include the Sugar Bush, North Road, 3 Bros, Russet, Russet-Spy, and Bee Squared ciders. Of these our favourites are for sure the Sugar Bush and the Bee Squared. And the Bee Squared is the one I decided to pair up with some tart summer rhubarb!
Pairing with Rhubarb
The flavours in Bee Squared are nearly the perfect match for rhubarb. It’s tart, as you would expect in a Britsih style cider, but the roundness of the apple flavour is more prominent. It is also sweetened with local, unfiltered honey, which gives it a touch of deep sweetness. Adding honey helps as well, to bring out a floral taste and smell. Kind of like biting into an apple, with your head stuck up into the branches of a flowering apple tree. Basically summer in bottle.
Since rhubarb pairs so well with other floral noted things like strawberries, and lavender, this seemed like the obvious coupling. And if you’ve ever had an apple rhubarb pie, you know that the apple flavours are a pretty great addition as well.
Rhubarb Jam Time!
This jam does have a bit of pectin added to it. This is because of the way I stew the rhubarb. If the rhubarb, sugar, honey and cider just stewed on their own, it would be too watery. I tried stewing out the water, but I found I lost the bright colour and quite a lot of the cider flavour. You want to be able to feel the tartness and springiness of the cider, so adding the pectin allows for less stewing. What you’re left with is a sweet, floral, slightly tart and apply jam that I have had trouble not eating on a spoon.