The rhubarb I use in coooking is thick stemmend and crimson red. It’s not that you can’t cook with greeenish or white colored rhubarb but the red one just gives a beautiful appearance to dishes. When it grows in the woods their triangular shaped leaves can get quite large; in fact when I was a little kid on a hiking trip with my school our teacher gave us an assigment - to find the biggest rhubarb leaf in exchange for a chocoolate bar. I guess they realy had interesting ways to keep us kids busy because it took me over an hour to find the biggest leaf – YES I really wanted that chocolate bar reward. Rhubarb leaves are not to be consumed they are actually toxic.
(rhubarb chutney next to steamed char and sea beans)
In the western hemishpere their fleshy petioles stalks can be harvested in mid-Spring. The season often lasts into September but by then they are very fibrous – good for jamming. Freshly cut stalks are firm and glossy.
(buckwheat and Morbier cheese salad with sweet rhubarb pickle)
It is said rhubarb originated in Russia and China and the expense of transportation across Europe was costly since rhubarb is perisable and several times more expensive than saffron or cinnamon! With European settlers arriving in Maine and Massachusetts rhubarb made its appearance in the United States. That’s when rhubarb pie was born.
(rhubarb shortcake with whipped cream and candied lemon)
Fruit or vegetable?
Technically it’s a vegetable but more likley you’ll encounter rhubarb in desserts.
Following a few rhubarb basics
- I suggest cutting fresh ruhbarb stalks into ½-inch long pieces. If you cook rhubarb it will need a few tablespoon of water to keep it moist and some sugar (1/2 cup sugar per pound of rhubarb) to balance the natural sour/tart flavor of this vegetable.
- Stew rhubarb on a medium heat setting 20-30 minutes covered with a tight fitting lid then transfer mixture into a kitchen processor and blend for 3-5 minutes until you get a pureed texture.
Now you have rhubarb cooking down experiment with adding spices such as star anis for an exotic taste or pepper flakes for a spicy note. Serve with grilled sole or codfish pairing rhubarb with lamb is a nice match too.
Slim Stalk – Slim Body!
Besides being an antioxitant, rhubarb makes you lose weight – but only since it is a laxative and hence has a slimming effect.