Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Rhubarb


Growing rhubarb in your garden is so easy. It's the first thing I planted  when I moved to Cornwall - so that means I've had rhubarb in my garden for over 20 years. That morning I moved in I was wandering around my new, very overgrown garden, whilst waiting for the removal men and I found a large root of rhubarb just left, unplanted, on the edge of the path. It was spring time and the poor plant was trying to grow from this wizened root. It was amazing to see bright coloured steams desperately trying to sprout. I felt I had to plant this tenacious thing and see how it did - that plant stayed growing for years.

Here's some of my rhubarb wisdom I've gathered since then .......

Plant it.......

Rhubarb is actually a vegetable (it's related to sorrel) Easy to grow - just plant in a sunny spot with plenty of rich soil and it will reward you for years. Every autumn/winter give it a good dollop of manure and maybe a liquid feed in July after you stop picking.

Rhubarb grows in two crops - the first is force under terracotta pots and available in January to early February with a maincrop from late march to June.

To pick the steams just grasp at the base and pull with a little twist - the steam should just pull away. Don't cut with a knife as it introduces disease. 


Prepare it......

Cut off the leaves - they contain a poison (oxalic acid) and should never be eaten - on a side note the leaves can be soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes and the strained liquid can be used as a spray for aphids.

Wash the steams and if its force rhubarb the steams will be tender and easy to cut. Just trim off the top and bottom and slice. For the main crop rhubarb you will find it tougher and has stringy ribs. So, after washing, strip these ribs off with a knife and then you can cut into slices.

Store it........

Rhubarb will only keep uncooked for a few days in the fridge. It wilts quickly so my advice is if you have it in the garden just pick what you need for that day. If you buy try to buy them with the leaves still on - it helps to keep it fresh.


Cook it.......

The easiest thing is to stew rhubarb. It can be rather tart and acidic so you will need to add sugar along with a little orange juice, ginger or vanilla. Pop the cut rhubarb into a pan, add about a cup of water and a little orange juice or zest, about 2oz of sugar and cook for 8-10 minutes. Serve with custard for a classic pudding.

You can also roast it, make it into a pie or a crumble. It makes really good jam or you can stew and puree it to make up a fool.......




So if you haven't already got a rhubarb plant in your garden make it this year that you plant one.....

Have a great Wednesday
love Lizx