Rhubarb stalks are one of the first signs that spring is on its way.
Forced rhubarb is almost always available from February onwards, and sometimes appears as early as December. It can be used in a wide range of recipes.
It's quite tart, so needs the addition of something sweet to make it more palatable. But you don't have to use refined sugar. In many recipes you can use apple juice or orange juice instead.
Remember: only the stalks are edible!
- In Season?
- With some appearances as early as December, forced rhubarb will almost always appear strongly in February. Otherwise you'll see it from late March through to the end of June.
- Choose rhubarb stalks that are firm, with leaves that are fresh, not brown or black. Leaves on forced rhubarb will be yellow, rather than green, as they haven't been exposed to sunshine.
Remember that the leaves shouldn't be eaten, as they are toxic.
Forced rhubarb is usually a stronger pink colour than unforced rhubarb, which is mainly green with some dark pink.
- Rhubarb is best stored in the fridge, where it will keep for a week or two.
But you might be better off just cooking it and freezing it until you're ready to use it.
- Remember: only the stalks are edible! Throw away the leaves! They contain oxalic acid, which is toxic.
However, don't stress too much, because you'd need to eat a few kilos of the leaves to do yourself any lasting damage.
Given that early side effects are nausea and vomiting, it's best to avoid eating them!
To use rhubarb:
Cut off the leaves and the cut ends of the stems.
Chop the stems into about 1 inch chunks and put in a non-aluminium pan with 2 tablespoons of water.
Cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until soft. Sweeten to taste with sugar or honey.
For a delicious, simple recipe, try spiced rhubarb or rhubarb fool. Or you could try the old family favourite: rhubarb crumble.
More Rhubarb InformationForced rhubarb is sometimes available from as early as December, and is almost always flooding the shelves from February in the UK. Non-forced rhubarb is a month or two later.
Forcing was discovered by accident in the 1800s, when gardeners found that growing rhubarb in the dark made it sprout earlier and gave it a vibrant pink colour and more delicate flavour than normally-grown rhubarb.
Although we often think of rhubarb as native to the UK, some say it originates from Russia, whilst others believe it was from ancient China.
Although often used in puddings, rhubarb is actually a vegetable (or, strictly speaking, an "edible stem").
|Spiced rhubarb makes a great warming dessert. It's a lovely way of enjoying fresh rhubarb and works well with the delicate, early-season forced rhubarb, as well as the stronger-flavoured later season variety.|
- Classic English Pancakes
Pancakes are traditionally served on Shrove Tuesday, which is always 47 days before Easter Sunday, and is the final day before the commencement of Lent. As Lent is, for Christians, a time of abstinence of some kind - of giving things up - pancakes are the perfect food for the day before, using as they do eggs, fat and flour - foods seen as luxurious and that were forbidden for strict Lent observers.
Not so many people observe Lent these days, although it can be such a useful practice - regardless of our religious or spiritual identity - for appreciating more keenly the luxuries of every day life which we may take for granted.
A period of renunciation can help is discover, perhaps, how attached we can get to and even how reliant we can be upon certain things and certain behaviours.
Meanwhile, though, back to those pancakes!
- Classic Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb crumble is one of those desserts that lets us know winter is nearly over and spring is on its way. Delicious, served with fresh cream or custard.
- Easy Rhubarb Cheesecake
This cheesecake is SO easy to make, and is a brilliant one for making the day before your dinner so that all you have to do is put the sauce on top on the day.
- Frozen Rhubarb Daiquiris
What better way to celebrate the joys of using seasonal ingredients than to mix yourself a Summer daiquiri with a difference – designed to raise an eyebrow and then a toast at your next cocktail party.
- Graham's Rhubarb Pudding
Looking around for different ways to cook rhubarb as we have a lot of rhubarb in the garden,
- Rhubarb And Ginger Ice Cream
Great for a sunny afternoon treat, this recipe works well as an ice cream or a frozen yoghurt. Ginger and rhubarb are a delicious combination and using them in an ice cream is an unusual treat.
- Rhubarb Chutney by Matt Tebbutt
This non-dessert rhubarb recipe makes a great addition to our selection, and has been provided to us very generously by TV Chef Matt Tebbutt.
- Rhubarb Fool
This rhubarb fool is really simple to make. Yet it makes an impressive (if somewhat calorie-rich!) dessert. It's a lovely fruity dessert to herald the start of spring.
- Rhubarb Meringue Pie
A delicious spring-time treat. A spiced rhubarb base with a meringue topping reminds you that summer is on its way!
- Rhubarb Tart
This sweet flan makes the most of springtime rhubarb. It's a deliciously different way of serving it.
- Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
This is a great way of introducing rhubarb to fussy eaters. By using it to form the topping of an "upside-down" sponge cake, it isn't overpowering and makes an interesting and tasty display!
- Rhubarb, Ginger & Orange Crumble
A delicious alternative to the classic rhubarb crumble recipe. See the variations for using ginger & orange.
- Spiced Rhubarb
Spiced rhubarb makes a great warming dessert. It's a lovely way of enjoying fresh rhubarb and works well with the delicate, early-season forced rhubarb, as well as the stronger-flavoured later season variety.
Got one? Send us your recipe!
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