The joys of rhubarb

Posted By Carla Neggers

April 12, 2024

Categorised under: ,

My first encounter with rhubarb wasn’t promising: I was around seven and ate a chunk off the ”vine.” It was ultra-tart. I had friends who loved it straight that way but not me! I don’t like it too sweet but I do like some sweetness.

Since then I’ve come to love rhubarb stewed, in pies, cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies and jams. I’m trying savory glazes for meats and vegetables now, too. It’s hard to go wrong.

Not everyone is a fan. An Irish friend remembers his mother peeling rhubarb and using it in many dishes, but he never developed a taste for it. After many years, he gave it another shot, in an elegant dessert at a top restaurant. Nope. Still not for him. I think it’s one of those love-it-or-hate it things.

Vermont’s Blake Hill Preserves makes a variety of outstanding artisan jams. One of our favorites is their strawberry-rhubarb jam, but they also offer a botanical variety that’s delicious and different: Rhubarb with Dandelion & Honey. Here’s what they say about it: “Inspired by the sweet, grassy air surrounding Blake Hill Farm in early spring, we combine wild dandelion flowers foraged from the meadows around Blake Hill with heritage variety rhubarb from our gardens and Honey Field Farm, and raw clover honey.”

Their website offers recipes, too! I want to try their strawberry-rhubarb Victoria sponge cake.

With two grandchildren with celiac, I make gluten-free rhubarb and strawberry-rhubarb crumbles. I use King Arthur Baking Company’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour instead of all-purpose (gluten) flour and follow my favorite recipes. We prefer adding some rolled oats but it’s great without them, too. I don’t tend to spice the fruit. I like it best when I can taste it, and it’s not too sweet.

I haven’t grown rhubarb on our Vermont hilltop. Maybe I’ll plant some this spring. I wonder if  woodchucks, deer, squirrels and chipmunks like it? Regardless, rhubarb is a sure sign of spring.

Here’s a springtime photo that makes me sigh. Lupine, not rhubarb. 🙂 Enjoy!