Look how the rhubarb has grown! I would like to say it is because of my green fingers but, to be honest, I haven’t touched it, it’s just grown all by itself! So often that’s what seems to happen on the plot, I nurture some particular crop and it doesn’t produce much. Others are left to their own devices and thrive!
Rhubarb in February
Rhubarb – beginning of April
I have a chequered relationship with rhubarb which goes back a long way. When I was a child my Dad grew rhubarb in our garden, very successfully. So successfully did he grow it that we used to have rhubarb in some shape or form for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Boy, was I sick of rhubarb. Coupled with that was his growing technique – surrounding the rhubarb crown with horse manure. My Dad used to keep a cardboard box and a shovel in the boot of his car, an Austin A40. Whenever we went out for a ‘drive’, (which is what people used to do in the sixties when petrol was cheap and before anyone worried about pollution), my Dad would travel along the local country lanes looking for horse riders. On spotting a freshly deposited pile of horse manure in the middle of the road, Dad would stop the car, retrieve the box and shovel, collect the manure and put it in the boot. Off we would go again, looking for the next pile. Oh, the embarrassment!
It is no surprise then that, as an adult, I could never quite face eating any dish containing rhubarb. However, to everyone’s amazement I bought a rhubarb crown a couple of years ago (don’t quite know what came over me!) and have since been trying out various recipes. In actual fact I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve actually enjoyed it! Although I have avoided rhubarb crumble, which we had every Sunday!
One of my favourite recipes is this one for rhubarb and date chutney. It is from the BBC Good Food website:
Rhubarb and date chutney
500g red onions, chopped
Ingredients for rhubarb and date chutney
500g grated root ginger300ml red wine vinegar
500g eating apples, chopped
200g chopped dates
200g mix of dried cranberries/raisins
1tbsp each of curry powder and mustard seed
400g light muscovado sugar
Last, but not least, 700g rhubarb sliced into 2cm chunks
Put the onions and ginger into a large pan with the vinegar. (I used a preserving pan) Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the rest of ingredients (apart from the rhubarb) and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer, uncovered, until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
Then add the rhubarb. My rhubarb stems were quite thick so I sliced slightly thinner than the recommended 2cm. Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens – about 15 to 20 minutes.
Leave for about 15 minutes then spoon into clean jars. It should be left for a month before eating.
When I made this last year everyone thought it was yummy so I have just made another batch with the first of this year’s rhubarb. It is great for eating with cold meats or with cheese and of course you can give some jars to your friends and family.
There’s still loads of rhubarb to come so if anyone know any other good rhubarb recipes, I’d be delighted to hear from you!