West Yorkshire is the home of forced rhubarb, and this is the rhubarb season where it is starting to appear in the shops. These beautiful long, slim, pink candy sticks of forced rhubarb are grown in the dark and harvested from January through March.
When buying rhubarb, look for bright pink, firm sticks, not the floppy ones. I remember as a child picking it from under an old tin dustbin – freshly picked, it tasted fabulous raw, dipped in sugar. Discard the leaves because they are toxic. Forced rhubarb is very tender, so there is no need to peel; just wash and trim the ends.
Diced rhubarb is excellent for a crumble, pie or fool; if you like it to be tangy, do not add too much sugar. In the summer months, mix garden-grown rhubarb with strawberries for a delicious pie filling.
Rhubarb is great for pickles and chutneys as it goes so well with cheese, meat and even fish.
Here are two of my favourite Rhubarb Recipes from Waitrose.
For a quick dessert: Vanilla Roasted Rhubarb
- 1 vanilla pod
- 100g caster sugar
- 400g rhubarb, trimmed and diced
- 60ml white wine
- tub of vanilla ice cream or greek yoghurt for serving
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.
- Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.
- In a large bowl, mix the vanilla seeds into the caster sugar, add the rhubarb, vanilla pod, and white wine and mix.
- Spread out evenly onto a baking tray.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holding its shape.
- Allow to cool and served in bowls with vanilla ice cream or greek yoghurt, drizzled with some of the rhubarb juices.
- The cooked rhubarb will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It is excellent with porridge or overnight oats.
Cheeseboard pickle: Rhubarb and Chilli Pickle
Equipment 2x 500ml sterilised jars
- 200ml apple cider vinegar
- 160g caster sugar
- 30g root ginger, finely sliced
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 400g rhubarb, trimmed and diced into 1 cm pieces
- Put the vinegar, sugar, ginger, chilli flakes, peppercorns, mustard seeds, salt and 200ml of water in a stainless steel pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer on low heat until all sugar and salt have dissolved.
- Divide the rhubarb pieces evenly between the two sterilised jars and top with hot pickling liquid.
- Cover with the lids and leave to cool. Once cool, pop in the refrigerator; after two days, the pickle is ready to serve. Keep in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.
- This pickle is perfect for serving on a cheeseboard.