097 A rhubarb BBQ

097 A rhubarb BBQ

When I got a chance to harvest a lot of free rhubarb, I ignored both my injury and the vacation preparations to make a rhubarb BBQ sauce, some rhubarb syrup, and a sweet treat. While I share it all, I ramble on about the myth of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Note: The video version of this post gets released on Wednesday, May 29.

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce

8 cups rhubarb
1/2 cup onions
1/2 cup vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoons salt
2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon mustard, paprika, chili, pepper flakes, black pepper
Cook for an hour or until soft, then can 30 minutes at 90 degrees with all the usual precautions.

Rhubarb syrup and sweet stuff

8 cups rhubarb
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
30 minute simmer. Separate syrup and stems. Can both at 90 degrees for 30 minutes with all the usual precautions.

With only a week until the hiking trip, I had a million things to do. But there was free rhubarb. How could I say no to that?

I got a chance to harvest a lot of rhubarb in a neighbor’s garden. I didn’t think about my injury until I had to process the stems.

With a lot of help from my left hand and my husband, I managed to get the ends trimmed off.

Luckily, I could rely on the food processor for most of the chopping. The machine made quick work of the stems–and saved me a lot of injured chopping

The first batch was done, so I peeled my way through the rest of the stems.

Holding the peeler was even harder than usual with the splint but I didn’t want to aggrevate the joint.

I am still new to the machine, so setting it up sometimes takes some attempts. The quality of the parts is a lot better than Marvin’s accessories ever were, though.

The machine is scary fast. I realized this when chopping potatoes. I could not keep up.

I learned a lot of lessons from how Marvin kept breaking, so I checked the fill level frequently.

But within literal minutes, the entire crate of rhubarb was chopped and ready for futher processing.

I had two and a half things planned for these. Two and a half? Yes. Let me explain.

On the left here, I am following a few recipes for rhubarb syrup. I absolutely love rhubarb lemonade.

But the recipe only used the liquid in the end. The stems were discarded. No way. I won’t let that much sugary rhubarb go to waste.

The second pot was an experiment: rhubarb BBQ sauce. The recipes sounded both delicious and odd.

I’ll add both recipes to the written version. I highly recommend both. But before we get to the result, let’s finish these.

Half an hour later, the entire apartment smelled enticingly sour-sweet. And the few taste tests I’d snuck in had me dreaming about dinner.

We don’t own an immersion blender, so I let the liquid cool completely before processing it. We weren’t in a hurry. I didn’t have to watch the sauce cool.

I transferred the rhubarb to a container where the recipe discarded it.

I’d decided to just can it up for a sweet treat. It is just rhubarb cooked in sugary water after all. I am glad I got a secondary product out of this process. There really wasn’t that much syrup.

The syrup was irresistible. I made sure not to waste a single drop. Sorry, kids 😉

I blended the BBQ sauce until only a few chunks were left.

When we returned from our hiking trip, I checked on the rhubarb plants. They’ve been harvested to their maximum. There isn’t much left. I really hope they didn’t weaken the plants in their rush to get rhubarb.

When I had harvested, I’d made sure to choose leaves that were crowding out other plants. I never took more than a few leaves from each plant, mostly taking the older stems and leaves with slug damage.

My fellow gardeners don’t seem to have been as careful. As seniors, they should know better.

My first thought was: well, the Tragedy of the Commons again. But I don’t think it is that simple.

There is a philosophical theorem that says: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

They probably did not know better. Our society does not educate us in plant care. And I don’t even believe in the Tragedy of the Commons.

“Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest.”
“Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”

This ecologist and biologist Garrett Hardin really thought the best of humans, didn’t he?

Some of my lids were cracked. I diligently checked every lid and jar while filling the canner.

The company replaced them under warranty but it was still annoying.

I’d used the left-over marinade in the bowl to marinate some steaks from the local farm.

I’d cleaned the stone BBQ all morning only to realize the grates needed at-home attention. So, I’d brought the small one from home.

While I set up our BBQ, let me finish telling you about the Tragedy of the Commons.

There are many examples that prove Hardin wrong. Humans are much less black and white–and much less selfish.

Most humans are not evil. We come together in many places to work together and share.

We should also consider the source. Somehow, everyone remembers the Tragedy of the Commons but no one talks about the very racist ideas Hardin shared throughout his life. We need to stop overlooking racism.

And we need to stop assuming the worst of our fellow humans.

Most of us would not lazily lie around if we didn’t have to work to earn a living and make someone else rich. Think about it. Would you?

We would take a break, yes. But I am convinced almost everyone would return to doing something after a few weeks. It might just not be the same career as before.

If the top-earning individuals were not so keen on making us fight each other, I’m sure we could make it work.

A few people benefit from this system, so they fight tooth and nail to keep it around. For the vast, vast, vast majority of us, however, the current system breaks us apart.

I believe, we can do better.

We can’t let the pointless greed (seriously, beyond a few million, what’s the point anyway?) of a few ruin us all.

Side note: a friend trimmed the lawn. Does it not look amazing?

So long, and thanks for being here.