Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Secrets of Rhubarb

The taste of rhubarb still thrills me as much as it did when we ate canned fruit all winter and gloried in this, the first "fruit" of spring. The ruby-red stalks have been available at the Pasco Farmer's Market this year, and I usually get around four pounds.

To the trimmed, sliced rhubarb, I add about two cups of water and 3/4 cup or so of agave syrup. Honey works well, too. Cook it up, stirring frequently and adding water if necessary, 'til the pieces are soft.

Rhubarb has an interesting affinity for basil; if you add some chopped basil after the rhubarb is cooked, it will create a delightful "mystery" flavor that people will try to place, usually unsuccessfully.

This year I learned that my trusty Wusthof kitchen shears do a fine job of slicing the stalks much more quickly than using a knife; the shears cut completely through the rhubarb's strings rather than having to put extra slicing effort into using a knife.

You can actually dice raw rhubarb up finely (1/4 inch or so) and bake it into muffins, pancakes and breads as you would raisins or cranberries. I am thinking about coming up with a rhubarb granola recipe.

Rhubarb is easy to grow once established, though it is a heavy feeder. I currently don't have a rhubarb patch but would like to!


  1. Hey, Beck!
    Mom used to bake the rhubarb - single layer in a glass pan, no sugar, no water. Creates a nice base for many things without watering down the rhubarb. One thing she would do was put it into strawberry jello with chopped walnuts. Excellent combination and a great way for someone who is watching calories if they use sugar-free jello.
    Looking forward to trying it with the basil!!

  2. I see that rhubarb has even more secrets! That sounds like roasting, which would create a nice, strong flavor.

  3. Here's a question for you - I cooked up some rhubarb and added strawberries and fresh ginger. Cooked into a - not sure what to call it - mash? mess? Anyway - I added some Agave Syrup but still looking for something to make the flavors pop without getting too sweet AND adding too many calories. Thinking a little brown sugar, but haven't tried that yet. Any suggestions?

  4. Oh, definitely a "messy mash!" Maybe a dash of lemon juice? A mysterious herb, like basil? I find that I just like to enjoy the tangy aspects of rhubarb rather than make it overly sweet. The mixture you describe sounds very flavorful!