Rhubarb!

Rhubarb is a very versatile vegetable, which is often used in desserts. It has a very strong acidic taste and cannot be eaten raw, but when steamed or boiled with sugar to taste it can provide the basis for a lovely crumble, pie or mousse.

This versatile plant was always a feature in my father’s garden when I was a child. Like blackberries and gooseberries, rhubarb grows easily in Yorkshire soil. The leaf is poisonous because of oxalic acid and should never be eaten. However, the root was highly prized and of higher value to the Chinese as a medicine for curing intestinal and liver problems than other well known spices and opiates. In 1777, an apothecary in Banbury, Oxfordshire produced roots at home to develop as a drug for many other ailments. This led to the discovery of how to force an early crop.

We now have what is known as ‘The Rhubarb Triangle’ around Leeds that supplied London’s Spitalfields and Covent Garden markets in the nineteenth century. Forced rhubarb is paler than the later crop, which is sweeter as it is grown outdoors.


When I want some I select the mature stalks that are ready to break off at the base of the plant. I then cut off the leaves and the base of the stalks, wash and cut into inch long chunks ready for the pan. I crush root ginger into the mix with sugar to taste. This is all that is needed to cook the rhubarb through. Always cover and simmer gently on a low heat for about 10 minutes until the lumps still hold their shape, but are soft to the fork.

Rhubarb crumble or pie is delicious, but if you want a lighter alternative, then a sprinkling of organic muesli on top, served with custard, Greek yoghurt or light cream goes down a treat.

 

More recipes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/rhubarb

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6 thoughts on “Rhubarb!

  1. Mary Ann says:

    I like to make rhubarb sauce and pour it over ice cream! I haven’t made any this summer, but now that you’ve reminded my taste buds about how good it is, I am going to have to try to find some at the farmers market.

  2. jimcurrie692 says:

    I love rhubarb crumble and jam. Crumble so easy to make . Chop rhubarb add to baking dish with a little water ..just a dash. A good bit of sugar and bake 30-40 minutes. Custard or ice cream. Nothing better. I was thinking though that without sugar how did our ancestors sue rhubarb as it is pretty sour
    Rhubarb jam next

  3. gwenkirkwood says:

    My husband was a great lover of rhubarb and ginger jam, and almost any pudd or scone or pie containing rhubarb BUT I have never broken it off the base. I have always understood the stems must be PULLED to encourage next year’s growth, also as rhubarb needs plenty of moisture I cut off the leaves and leave them around the plants. Having said all that rhubarb grew like a forest in my garden just up the road, now seems reluctant to establish at all in my present little garden.

    • valerieholmesauthor says:

      Hi Gwen, I love the combo of rhubarb and ginger and agree that the stalks should come away of their own accord. However, I have never left the leaves around the plant and it seems to thrive. Interesting – thanks for popping by 🙂

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