Rhubarb Wine: Another dissapointing harvest

A Small Harvest

I pulled in just under 9 oz (250 g) of rhubarb today, which is about the same as this time last year (9 oz on 6/2206). My running total of just under 19 oz (525 g) is significantly behind last year’s 30 oz (850 g). Since I was hoping/expecting a bigger harvest this year than last, it’s pretty disappointing. And it’s my own fault. I wrote here about how I neglected the rhubarb patch early in the year. Well, I got the weeds under control and started fertilizing, but I ran out of my homebrew organic fertilizer. I didn’t get around to making more for a while, and other things came up, and – Ok, I was lazy and I got a small harvest so far. Today I fertilized the rest of the patch, and I expect a more normal harvest over the rest of the summer.

A Delayed Experiment

Last year, my July and August harvests totaled two pounds, so if I do as well this year I’ll still have over three pounds at the end of the summer. That’s enough to make a 1-gallon batch of rhubarb wine, but I had plans for two batches so that I could experiment. Normally I make the wine without doing anything to neutralize the oxalic acid in the rhubarb. In fact, I think of it as an important part of rhubarb wine’s character. Others add precipitated chalk to do away with the oxalic acid, then add other organic acids like tartaric, citric, and/or malic. They claim that oxalic acid contributes an objectionable flavor, and I wanted to test that by making to nearly identical batches – one made like all my other batches, and one treated with chalk and tartaric acid. Just to be clear, the only issue is how the oxalic acid affects the wine’s flavor. While it can be toxic in high doses, most of it is in the rhubarb leaves, which you should never use in any food or beverage. The stalks contain much less and are safe to eat (or ferment). Anyway, the experiment will have to wait until next year. I’ll just have to make do with a batch of great wine, this year 🙂

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