Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

Rhubarb and pineapple conserve

It never seems quite like spring until I make a few rhubarb recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Rhubarb Conserve in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I just had to give it a try. In addition to the rhubarb the recipe called for a pineapple (as well as for the juice and grated peel of an orange).

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

The recipe turned out wonderfully, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. The conserve tastes more like a pineapple conserve than a rhubarb one with lovely sunny notes of pineapple that are slightly muted by the tartness of the rhubarb.

And, it wasn’t a bright red color like I anticipated. Instead the conserve is a blend of delightful shades of yellow, green, and brown. The rhubarb I used had a little red in the stalks–but much of the length was green. This may have affected the color. I also did a little research and discovered that rhubarb jam recipes often call for strawberry gelatin or other added coloring agents so I now think that the conserve color is exactly right given the ingredients I used.

Conserves are typically served with meat, and this conserve is lovely with pork or poultry, but I also enjoy using it as a marmalade on toast and English muffins.

Rhubarb Conserve meat

When I worked on this post, I pondered whether I should use the old name or whether that was misleading. In the end, I decided to add “pineapple” to the recipe title, but to keep the keep the word conserve.

The bottom line: Whatever this recipe is called, it is delightful and something that I would make again.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

  • Servings: 5 one-half pint jelly jars
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 pineapple (approximately 4 cups shredded pineapple)

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

juice of 1 orange

grated rind of 1 orange

2 1/3 cups sugar

Core pineapple and remove flesh from skin, then shred into small pieces. Place in a large sauce pan.  Add rhubarb, orange juice, grated orange peel, and sugar. Let sit for 1/2 hour to allow the juice to start flowing; then using medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

49 thoughts on “Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

    1. I’m currently thoroughly enjoying the U.S. spring. I never cease to be amazed how technology has enabled us to get to know each other virtually even though we are in opposite hemispheres. 🙂

    1. The way the old recipe calls for using 2/3s the weight of the other ingredients for the sugar is a clever way to account for how the variation in pineapple and orange size affects the amount required. When I saw those directions, it made me think of how some modern recipes list ingredients by weight rather than volume. (And, I wondered whether I should give weights when I updated this recipe- though, of course, in the end I decided not to.)

  1. What a tasty looking treat. I agree with you about the color being right since you didn’t add coloring. I like the natural color. I’ve never cooked with rhubarb. My Mom used to make a delicious rhubarb pie.
    Thanks for sharing a new old fashioned yummy recipe. 🙂

    1. I really enjoy cooking with rhubarb. Each year I generally make rhubarb pie and stewed rhubarb (rhubarb sauce). And, in recent years I also generally make Baked Rhubarb with Orange. It’s a hundred-year-old recipe that I first made for this blog and really liked.

    1. It’s a very nice combination. I was a little surprised that pineapples apparently were widely available in stores a hundred years ago.

    1. I’ve really enjoyed trying hundred-year-old recipes. Some recipes are dated, and are for foods that have gone out of style; but many are for very tasty foods.

  2. It’s been so long since I’ve had rhubarb, I can’t remember what it tastes like. I know we used to have rhubarb pie, but that’s all I can remember. Now and then we see it in the markets here, but it’s always shipped in, and usually is pretty limp. I’ve never bought any — probably haven’t eaten it for 40 years.

    1. You should give it a try. I really like its refreshingly tart taste. Each spring I look forward to having rhubarb, and generally make 3 or 4 different rhubarb dishes every year.

    1. I think that the definition of conserve (within the context of food) is “to preserve with sugar.” It seems like an old-fashioned term to me. In my opinion, this recipe could be called a marmalade–though the original author probably expected that it would be served with meat.

    1. Yes, it probably could be considered a mild chutney, and it would be lovely with some south Asian dishes. It’s interesting how the names of some foods change across the years.

  3. My dad grew rhubarb when we were in Alaska. My mother made rhubarb pie. When we moved back to Louisiana it was no where to be found! I was so young I turned my nose up at it, but I think if I could try it now I would probably like it. ~Elle

    1. Interesting. . . I hadn’t realized that rhubarb didn’t grow in the South. Rhubarb definitely has a unique, slightly bitter taste; but now that you’re an adult I think that you’d like it.

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