When I was a kid, we had gooseberries, a peach tree and lots of rhubarb in our garden. And as kids we carefully monitored our fruit patch for ripe gleaning. The gooseberries never made it to the purple stage: I didn't know until I was an adult that the green berries we ate were not ripe. The rhubarb was accompanied by a little bowl of sugar for dipping. Summer memories!
Right now, the rhubarb is sprouting, the buds emerging through snow, sleet, and cold. It is technically a vegetable but we eat it as a fruit. Before sugar became readily available and cheap, rhubarb was not eaten, but used medicinally. We use it for jams, sauces, crumbles, wine, and especially- pies. So much so, that it is commonly called Pie Plant.
Nutritionally, rhubarb mostly has lots of Vitamin K1 and is high in fibre. Rhubarb is a better source of antioxidants than kale.
To grow rhubarb all you need is sun. Even partial shade will give you rhubarb. You can buy the plants, but if you know someone, the clumps divide and replant happily. The plants easily produce for 5 and often 10 years. I think it is beautiful enough for the flower beds!
To harvest rhubarb, pull on the stalks to twist them off at the soil level. This will leave the roots intact to regrow. The leaves are not ingested, as they contain oxalic acid.
Store the stalks. wrapped, in the fridge or slice and freeze for later use.
There are many recipes online for rhubarb desserts, but here's one to get you started.
Upside Down Rhubarb Cake
Ingredients 1-1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths 1 cup orange juice 1-3/4 cups sugar 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks 2 large eggs 1/3 cup milk 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Instructions 1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Arrange the rhubarb in the dish in a single layer. Pout on the orange juice and sprinkle with 1 cup of the sugar. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes and then set aside. 2. Generously butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan or narrow rectangular baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar over the bottom. Arrange the baked rhubarb in rows over the sugar, curved side down. Coarsely chop any that is left and distribute it over the 1-inch lengths. 3. Transfer the liquid from the baked rhubarb to a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Set aside. 4. Combine the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Whisk the eggs and milk together and stir in the orange zest. Add to the flour mixture. Toss to form a soft dough. Spoon over the rhubarb and smooth the surface. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Spoon the reduced liquid over the warm cake. Serve warm, sliced into 1-inch-wide pieces, the width of the rhubarb rows.
And that leads us to:
Does anyone have Rhubarb they want a team to come to harvest?
Drop me a note!