Maybe there is no middle ground when it comes to loving Rhubarb. You are either all IN, or most definitely out. I for one, am a rhubarb lover and come from a long line of Rhubarb Affectionados. I was converted at a young age and I have kept the faith for all these years.
I adore this time of year on the farm because our rhubarb plants are brightly colored pink and full of endless possibilities. I have fond memories of my maternal grandmother, Janice Merz making bowls of warm, sweetened rhubarb for me and my siblets when we would go over for a visit. A sweet bowl full of pink vegetable LOVE! What could be better than that when you an small little farm girl? Absolutely nothing!
The peak season for Rhubarb is from April to June. Rhubarb’s stalks become soft when baked and make for a delicious pie filling. A tart vegetable, rhubarb is divine both in desserts, such as upside-down cakes and crumb bars, and in savory dishes.
Because it's so tart, rhubarb should always be cooked with a sweetener. It's usually used in baked desserts such as crumbles, cakes, and pies. You can also toss it with honey, roast briefly, and then add to salads or serve with meats. Apples, pears, berries, sugar, honey, whipped cream, ginger, fresh cheeses, yogurt, vanilla, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, ham (rhubarb chutney), duck, trout, salmon, and lamb (after all it is a vegetable and it roasts well with meats)
I have a annual ritual of making Rhubarb jam with my mother. You can also make rhubarb and strawberry or raspberry, peach or blueberry jams or chutney. I love to enjoy rhubarb jam on homemade honey wheat bread or Ice cream or by the spoonful. I also enjoy making a Rhubarb Gallette because it is the perfect combination of sweet and tart!
On the farm I am finding other tasty treasures such as wild asparagus and morel mushrooms hidden all over the ground. This is the kind of treasure hunting I highly recommend if you live in the country. I feel so very thankful to live on such rich and fertile soil and eating off the land truly is a gift. I encourage you to head to your local farmers markets and friend a farmer there and pick up some rhubarb to enjoy this weekend. If you have rhubarb planted in your back yard this is a great weekend to harvest this beautiful pink vegetable and turn it into a sign and a wonder. (xoxo, your grateful farmer)
An Ode to Rhubarb
Come midmorning, my sister and I
Would be shooed from the sandbox
To pick a dozen stalks of rhubarb
For that day’s pie.
There is a knack to picking rhubarb.
Grab too high and you snap the stalk.
Grab too low and you lose the leverage
For that crucial tug from the root,
Like pulling a boot from spring’s muddy gumbo.
Then we would take our lives in our hands
Lopping off leaves coursing with enough poison
To kill a congregation –
Or so we’d come to believe
Given the stern order never to taste them.
The work was both gratifying and disconcerting,
Entrusted to wield foliage so deadly
We could not feed it even to the hogs,
Bur heaved the leaves into the ditch
Onto a wilting mound that grew with every pie.
So, if I hesitate over that first bite,
It’s only a flicker of remembering how it felt
To bring those stalks into the house,
Hoping we had not been trusted too much.
I am a poetry lover and I so enjoyed the rhubarb poem above by Kim Ode. It also highlights of course that the rhubarb leaves are indeed poisonous friends, so don't eat them. As a young girl this didn't scare me but felt like an important and dangerous mission when I was asked to bring rhubarb in for my mother. (Cue the mission impossible theme song....du du du du du du....)