Once spring arrives seasonal eating becomes easier, though buying British fruit and vegetables can still be a challenge. One of the fruits most readily available is Rhubarb.
I have a bad habit of getting up early every morning, and although during the week this is fine, as everyone has to go to school or work, at the weekend I’m not too popular if I disturb everyone at 6am! So I tend to make a pot of coffee and listen to Radio 4. One of the programmes I love is On Your Farm (you can catch it at 6.30am or on the iPlayer; if that is too early for you.) The other week the team were visiting a Yorkshire Rhubarb farm.
The early crop of this magical fruit is produced in Yorkshire, ready for the market from January to March. To ensure it is available, whatever the weather, it is grown in sheds, where it is ‘forced’. It is deprived of light and grows rapidly in the dark. Rather romantically it is cropped by candle light, to protect the other plants in the shed from too much light.
It was fascinating to hear some of rhubarb’s history, there used to be express trains that ran to London to ensure the crop got to Covent Garden for sale that day. During the Second World War, when fresh citrus fruits and bananas were simply not available, this early, forced rhubarb was essential to ensure that children were receiving some Vitamin C.
Looking through my recipe books I notice that Rhubarb has a great affinity with ginger. It does need some sugar or honey to sweeten it, as it can be very bitter on it’s own. Sarah Raven has some delicious recipes in her books, and on line you can find her scrumptious Rhubarb Cordial, as well as purchase her rhubarb plant collection.
I decided with my last purchase of Rhubarb that I would cook it simply. I cut it up, at a slant, into good sized chunks, I added some chopped ginger , some sugar and a few rose petals. I stewed the fruit for little more then five minutes. (It really takes no time at all to cook, and if you’re not careful it will quickly loose all shape.)
Stewed Rhubard is delicious on it’s own, if you are trying to eat healthily it works very well with yoghurt. I tend to eat it with either Sheep or Goat yoghurt as I prefer their stronger taste. Of course Double Cream is perfect too.
To ring the changes I made several simple puddings with the rhubarb and yoghurt.
I put some together in a dish and sprinkled a few rose petals on. Then I made an easy-peasy crumble, by putting some crushed biscuits on top of the rhubarb, with a small dollop of yoghurt.
Finally I made a ‘pudding in a jar’ layering fruit and yogurt and topping with some more crushed biscuits.
Do let us know if you try any of my puddings or any of Sarah Raven’s inspiring rhubarb recipes…
Thanks for reading,