Rhubarb Compote ❊ Who Knew?

On Mother’s Day, we took a drive to visit my Mom and spent some time in her beautiful garden, full of perennials starting to come into their glory. Behind the enchanting blue garden shed that looks like a little English cottage is the vegetable garden and berry patch, and that’s where we found the rhubarb, just waiting for us to pick it. I cut off the stalks, trimming the elephant ear-sized leaves (they’re poisonous, by the way), and the Culinary Enthusiast and I toted home a nice bunch of the red and green stalks.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them: make a rhubarb compote, using a recipe that I found on the Plum Palate food blog recently (another beautiful site that I recommend to you!). The addition of honey, orange zest and vanilla gives this compote a delicate, almost floral orange flavour that subdues the tartness of the rhubarb. It’s still tangy, but with complex flavour undertones. The CE loved it!

If you look at the beautiful photos on Plum Palate, you’ll notice the compote there is much redder than mine, which is more strawberry blonde than redhead, so to speak. That’s because a lot of the rhubarb I used was more green-skinned than red. Next time I’ll try to make it with all red to achieve that stunning jewel-toned hue.

I cut the rest of the rhubarb up and put it in the freezer, just waiting for me to turn it into more compote or other treats (strawberry-rhubarb pie, perhaps?) when the fancy strikes.

So, what to do with rhubarb compote? I’ve used it as a topping for my oatmeal. I’ve broken myself of the habit of dousing oatmeal with brown sugar, so I usually have it with berries to add flavour. The  compote certainly livened up my breakfast bowl the other morning! It would be great as a topping for ice cream. You could also use it in place of applesauce, with pork chops for instance. I’m mulling over adding it to muffins next.

And, finally, it also makes a great dessert for my charming granddaughter who recently graduated into toddlerhood. The first time I gave her a little bowl of this, I wasn’t sure how she would react. Not only did she spoon all of it out (with lots of gratifying “mmm’s”), but she even licked the bowl! Her Mum has been giving her a small bowl for dessert, and our little Miss loves every bite. Yesterday, she even dumped it on her head which, from her age group, is high praise indeed. Rhubarb as a toddler treat – who knew?

Rhubarb Compote with Orange Zest and Vanilla

Recipe from the Plum Palate blog, with slight adaptation

  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
  • zest of an orange

Place the rhubarb, honey and salt in a medium sized pot and let sit for about 30 minutes to  extract the juices. Add the orange zest. If you’re using a vanilla bean, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds, and add them and the pod to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 or 12 minutes, or until tender. You’re looking for an applesauce-like consistency. Remove the vanilla bean pod. If you’re using vanilla extract instead, stir it in now. The compote will thicken somewhat as it cools.

Enjoy, and let me know how you would use this lovely compote!


  1. Hooray! We’re thrilled that you gave this recipe a try. Thanks so much for linking us and most of all for giving it a whirl. So glad to hear your granddaughter liked it. My kids gobbled it up, too. We’ve used it as a crepe filling and stirred into yogurt and I love the idea of using it on oatmeal in place of brown sugar, a change we’ve made at our house, too. Many thanks!

    • I appreciate your enthusiastic response! I’ve had a good response to this post, and hope it will encourage some more people to check out your blog if they haven’t already. Cheers!

    • Lucky you! I’d like to establish a rhubarb patch in my new yard … maybe I can find a spot behind the garage. Space is at a premium, but it would be great to go out and pick my own! Enjoy yours!

  2. Avery has been sitting with me as I read this and she has been going “mmmmm” the whole time. 🙂

    • Thank you, it is delicious indeed. Aha, you caught me on the vegetable designation. You’re right that rhubarb is a vegetable, but in my part of the world it’s so commonly referred to as a fruit that I decided to categorize it that way. But hey, vegetable or fruit, either way it tastes good!

  3. Strawberry Blonde.. I love it!! I made a rhubarb compote the other day and it was bright red.. until I overcooked it a bit? Maybe that changes the color.. in any event.. I love it no matter what color it is!!

    • Hmm, that’s interesting. I wonder if I cooked the colour out of mine. Next time I’ll monitor it a little more closely to see if it makes a difference. But a lot of the stalks I used were green with little if any red on them, so I thought that might be the reason it turned out so pale. Some scientific inquiry is called for, I think, but The Next Food Network Star is about to begin, so further research will have to wait until later! 😊

  4. Yum! We make this every year. We mostly just eat it on yogurt with a sprinkle of granola, but I hear that you can use it to replace some of the fat in baked goods (like you can use applesauce), which I keep meaning to try. Tell us if you use it in muffins!

  5. I knew this day would come, Mar. This is where we part company — for 1 post, anyway. I’m no fan of rhubarb and it’s not for lack of trying. Many a friend and family member has insisted that I try his/her jam/pie/muffin and yes, even compote, because no one makes it as good. For me, each was equally bad. I am not unreasonable, however. I’ll pass along this recipe to Zia, who is about as big a fan of rhubarb as there is. 🙂

    • Well, as long as it’s just for one post … 😊 I think many of us have foods we don’t like or have aversions to, and it would be ill-mannered indeed to try a forced conversion! If you don’t like rhubarb, you don’t like it and who am I or anyone to force it on you. Period. I have all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks and she doesn’t use cilantro in any of her recipes because she has an aversion to it. Understood. If she came to lunch I wouldn’t insist she try my special recipe, and if you were also at the table I wouldn’t try to serve you a strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert either! There, we can all be friends even if you don’t want to try my special brussel sprouts mousse with cilantro-rhubarb sauce (but no green peppers because I don’t like those)! 😉

  6. Hi Marlene, I made this rhubarb compote twice last week. It was so delicious!! Thanks for the recipe. I shared a bit of it with my son who also loves rhubarb. I say a bit because I hated to part with any of it….lol…. I loved the fact that it had honey in it as the sweetener.

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