9 Apr 2017

Thinking pink: Rhubarb, how do you eat yours?

Red champagne, early March


Not only am I surrounded by blossom but there's rhubarb and purple sprouting broccoli to pick too - what's not to love about spring!  The rhubarb season is now well under way here in the south-east of the UK - and hopefully where you are too.

I'm spoilt for choice this year as both my Champagne rhubarb plants have got off to a good start this year with nice long pink tasty stems.  Since the above photo was taken, both plants have produced a flower stalk - swiftly removed by me - which shows they're not entirely happy growing under the fruit trees. I'll be moving both plants next winter into a sunnier spot with good rich soil.

The Glaskin's Perpetual that I grew from seed a few years ago has been a little slower off the mark. I can live with that though because a friend lets me pick from her very vigorous rhubarb growing on one of the allotment gardens in the flats. Lovely long pink stems have been brought into my kitchen since mid-March. Amazingly, this friend doesn't even like rhubarb so never picks it; I think that's why it's so healthy, its strength has never been depleted by regular picking! Until now, of course. ;)  She doesn't know what variety it is, could be Timperley Early going by the timing.

Using an old school crate to keep marauding animals away.


At the shared allotment I counted eight rhubarb plants. Eight!! They're quite small so the team thought a little experiment might be in order. A few weeks ago, we chose the runt of the litter to see if we could force a few stems; a tall black bin was placed over the plant and weighed down with a brick. In just a few weeks the bin was removed to reveal a few pretty stems - tall, bright pink, tender and with beautiful yellow green leaves. The proper time to force rhubarb is when the crown is just beginning to show buds - I must remember that for next winter after I've mulched around the plants.  The RHS advices to stop forcing rhubarb in April and not take any more stems from the forced plant so that it has time to recover, or to not pick at all from that plant for a few years.

With all these stems to choose from, I'm have a grand old time discovering new recipes.  At first I made a compote for yogurt by chopping the stems into 3" lengths, roasting them in the oven, cooling, then chopping stem ginger into this. Simple and tasty.

Then I got a little more adventurous as my niece was coming over for supper. I whipped up meringue for a pavlova, filled with cream and laid roasted rhubarb and chopped stem ginger over the top. Tasty and visually tempting.

Pretty in pink.


The stems kept coming so I turned to Nigel Slater's Tender II - a veritable tome of inspiration for fruit growers.  Sloe Rhubarb grabbed my attention; a simple affair of roasting rhubarb stems in the oven with a bit of sugar and a good slug of sloe gin. (Plus, later, a few blueberries.) Nigel writes that sloe gin can be hard to get hold of - a very good reason to forage for sloes in the autumn and the reason my foraging has produced a well stocked cupboard.  I served the delicious results with some single cream which Mr Slater says is not strictly necessary. Although sometimes it just is.

Loving the sloe life - and pleased to find a use for my grandmother's Victorian sundae glasses


With a team get together at the allotment yesterday, a cake was needed so a traybake recipe on the Tesco website looked appealing.  It was a bit of a faff to make with lots of washing up after but the results were surprisingly very very good. (The recipe calls for walnuts; I had a bag of mixed nuts so my topping also has almonds and pistachios.)

Perhaps not just for tea time?
It was not a cake of beauty but its looks belied the tastiness within. Think sponge cake with a layer of sweetened rhubarb topped with a nutty oaty buttery flapjack topping and you're there. It was very well received at the allotment and I can heartily recommend you give this one a go.  I haven't tried, but imagine this would also be very nice warm with custard.  The recipe is on the Tesco website here: Traybake

And speaking of custard, and with the sun beating down (at least for today), my next foray into rhubarb heaven will have to be rhubarb fool, with cream of course.

How do you eat yours?








17 comments:

  1. Yum, they all look utterly delicious, especially the traybake, I am writing the recipe down at once. I like compote with Greek yoghurt as well, also crumble and rhubarb shortbread from Nigella's website https://www.nigella.com/recipes/members/gluttons-rhubarb-shortbread - I can highly recommend it. I've got rather a lot of rhubarb this year as well as my plot neighbour gave up his plot and told me to help myself to as much as I wanted. Didn't need telling twice. I lie awake at night thinking about his lovely plot and wondering if anyone has taken it yet. I have a dream of a grassy plot covered in fruit trees. Plus I'd like to put in a wildlife pond. And it has a shed. No time for any of that of course, but that wouldn't stop me... CJ xx

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    1. Oh wow, that would be fantastic to be able to extend your plot and have an orchard! Put in an application, quick! Are they full size plots I wonder? The plot that I share is only a quarter plot and it would be great to double up somehow, although it's very manageable at this size. Hmm, now I need to know what you'll do.... PS. Thanks for the rhubarb shortcake recipe, that will be printed and put in my folder! C xx

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  2. Mmmmmm - that tray bake looks and sounds most tempting Caro. I'm usually not that adventurous with my rhubarb and normally stick to either stewed rhubarb or rhubarb crumble. However I was catching up on yesterday's paper before and came across a rather appealing recipe for a rhubarb, orange, honey and anise cordial which I may well have to try before long :)

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    1. The traybake is an absolute winner, Anna. I'm going to make it again this weekend as my son's home for the Easter hols. I like the sound of your cordial - Sarah Raven has a recipe for rhubarb cordial but it called for a lot of sugar so I haven't made it. Your recipe sounds better.

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  3. Have you tried using rhubarb instead of apples to create a sauce to serve with pork? I also have made pork and rhubarb burgers. I also like rhubarb crumble muffin - the recipe is on my blog. You can access it using the search box or heading for May 2012

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    1. I don't cook pork very often but think a rhubarb sauce would be delicious with it ... and it is supposed to be a vegetable rather than fruit! One to think about next time. Thanks for directions to your rhubarb crumble muffin, I'll check that one out.

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  4. Love, love, love rhubarb! I roast mine in the oven with orange juice (seal it in with tin foil, so it sort of steams), it sweetens the rhubarb without the need to add extra sugar. Then mix it with with double cream and marscapone and add add crystalised ginger on the top. Can't remember where I got this recipe from...might have been a nigella one. Really simple and v.tasty!

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    1. YUM! that sounds good! I'm all in favour of a really simple pud that has minimum input from me - and minimum washing up as well by the sounds of it. Ooh, yes please, copying that one down for my next haul of rhubarb. Thanks, Emma!

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  5. A good post and the cake looks, and sounds delicious. I grow, and eat, rhubarb but not that fussed about it. Flighty xx

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    1. Oh, you sound like my friend, Flighty - although at least you cook and eat your rhubarb. The cake was delicious but I'm seriously rethinking the rhubarb that I grow, I want much redder stalks for next year! C xx

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  6. Just made awesome rose and cardamom rhubarb jam.

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    1. That DOES sound awesome! Where did the recipe come from, do tell? It's very unusual, I'm trying to imagine cardamom with rhubarb - it's a spice that I love but needs a subtle hand. I'm going to have to find out more ...

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  7. As I have only recently moved my rhubarb it is not ready for picking. Your post is making my mouth water! I would recommend the rhubarb and custard cake on the BBC Good Food website. Sarah x

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    1. It will be worth the wait, Sarah. I'd love to know which variety you've chosen to grow - I think it makes a difference. I've not been impressed with my Glaskin's Perpetual as it's always had green stalks. I read recently that it's supposed to have lovely deep red stalks but they can go green if the plant is lacking in water. Oops, my bad! Thanks for cake recommendation, I'll check it out. C xx

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  8. Sloe gin and rhubarb! Now that has to be tried! :-)

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  9. Oh my! You have me lamenting the demise of both my rhubarb plants! All those recipes appeal to me, I see I shall have to acquire a few new crowns.xxx

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  10. Looks delicious!
    I haven't really tasted rhubarb but reading this post,I think I will.:)

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