Yes, it’s that time of year again.
I don’t know about you but I always look forward to the first rhubarb of the season. Seeing the leaves grow bigger and bigger, pushing them aside to find the juiciest sticks and giving them a gentle tug is one of life’s simple pleasures.
I pulled a dozen sticks – which in supermarket terms is £4.50’s worth – surely it must be one of the most worthwhile crops to grow. It just keeps coming and coming – the more you pull the more you get. I know some of you have more than one type planted but I personally think one crown is enough.
I soon get fed up with the constant supply – even though I have tried many ways of eating it; rhubarb and strawberry compote; rhubarb pie; rhubarb gingerbread puddings; rhubarb and banana fool; rhubarb and ginger jam; rhubarb chutney there are plenty of different ways to use it up – you only have to take a look at Pinterest under the heading of Rhubarb to see just how many recipes there are.
I personally don’t bother forcing mine but I do try to pull the stalks before they get too big and stringy. I don’t bother freezing much either as it takes too much room up in the freezer but I do have a daily bowlful during the season – which for me is up until July – then I leave it alone, generally, to give the plant a chance to recover. I once read an article on some long-lived gentleman who said that his secret to a long life was rhubarb – so you never know – it may work for me too!
“The first ‘forced’ rhubarb, those gently tart stalks that appear in the market around Christmas time, came to prominence in the 1800’s, thanks to an ‘accident’ at Chelsea Physic Garden. The story goes that it was here in the winter of 1815, when the garden’s rhubarb patch was accidentally covered with builder’s rubble, that this particularly fine-tasting form was first discovered. The pale pink stalks that were unearthed by the gardeners in early spring were found to be extraordinarily mild and sweet, and a new kitchen ingredient was born.” ~ Nigel Slater
I’m just away now to make a rhubarb crumble for Sunday lunch – happy days!