But as a kid, I recall one of my favorite things to do in the spring was to take a coffee mug from the cupboard, fill it about half full with sugar and make my way outside to the rhubarb patch. Upon arrival, I'd snap off the biggest stalk I could find, dip the freshly liberated fruit into my sugar and proceed to eat the whole thing raw.
The best part was when the rhubarb was so sour that it made the back of my mouth hurt. A close second-best part was the crunchy texture of the sugar which would combine with the juice from the fruit to make this instant syrup in my mouth.
I wonder if my mom ever knew I did that? Maybe she suggested it? Either way, it's a great memory. But the adult in me has a hard time getting past the unwashed part... And I couldn't imagine letting my own kids get out the door with half of a mug filled with sugar. Just the thought of it makes me feel as though I should lock down my sugar canister, for fear that the little people will concoct a plan to eat unwashed rhubarb with a side of sugar.
Today I spent time at that same rhubarb patch I used to visit as a child. It's just as large as my child-sized memory recalls; filled with epic proportions of lush and beautifully blushing fruit. Even though some of the stalks are just the perfect size for dipping directly into sugar, I've traded my mug for a slightly different approach.
After a thorough washing, I added copious amounts of sugar.... I cooked and stirred. I ladled and processed. The end result being several batches of jam and preserves. Some were made with strawberries, some with blueberries.
And best of all, some were made with just with sugar alone.